Lifespan length has proven to be a continuing source of mystery. Why do some people enjoy living for decades and others are not so fortunate? Up until recently, the answer has been elusive.
However, based on a recent study of a lowly worm, research scientists have leaped one giant step closer to understanding longevity: METABOLISM.
Their report in the American Chemical Society's (ACS) Journal of Proteome Research details how the metabolic profile of worms can accurately predict how long they can live, and that middle age is a particularly important turning point.
The importance of this study is two-fold. In addition to satisfying our curiosity about aging, accurately predicting lifespans has numerous practical applications for life insurance companies, retirement investing and healthcare planning.
Our current method of estimating how long people will live takes into consideration some factors: family medical history, geographic location, levels of education and income, and lifestyle choices.
To make these predictions more accurate, researchers have begun drawing more extensively from genetics.
However, DNA does not explain everything. To connect the dots, researchers studied the metabolic profiles of the microscopic worm Caenorhabditis elegans to determine if they could discover patterns that directly affect life expectancy.
The study compared metabolic changes in regular worms with those of long-lived ones who had a genetic mutation.
By profiling 26 metabolites, they could accurately predict the worm's lifespans. The research team also found the two types of worms aged at different rates.
When the healthy lifespan worms hit middle age, their metabolic profiles showed that their aging process hit the accelerator, speeding up to about 40% faster than their longer-living counterparts.
Researchers caution that more research is needed to arrive at definitive conclusions. But this study is an exciting breakthrough in the battle to unlock the key to the aging process.
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