AFRICANGLOBE – A controversial new study in the United States claims that Black people age more quickly than White people.
Published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, the study found that the difference in age can be up to three years and could shed new light on higher mortality rates in Blacks.
The study used data on 7,644 Black and White participants, aged 30 and over, from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Each participant’s body-mass index, level of education, and whether they were present or former smokers were also noted.
The research team calculated each participant’s “biological age” by looking at 10 biomarkers that have been linked to aging, including C-reactive protein, serum creatinine, glycosylated hemoglobin, systolic blood pressure, and total cholesterol.
The researchers then compared biological ages of Blacks and Whites as indicated from the biomarkers.
“Our results showed that, on average, Blacks tend to be more than three years older biologically than Whites,” Morgan Levine and Eileen Crimmins of the University of Southern California’s Davis School of Gerontology wrote.
“Blacks experience morbidity and mortality earlier in the life course compared to Whites,” they continued.
“This is consistent with findings from previous studies reporting that Blacks tend to have levels of biological risk factors that are indicative of someone significantly older chronologically.
“Such premature declines in health may be indicative of an acceleration of the aging process,” the gerontologists claim.
Differences in biological age between Blacks and Whites appear to increase up until ages 60-65 and then decline.
The University of Southern California gerontology researchers said the cause for the biological age differences by race could be stress-related.
“Everyday stressors associated with being Black may negatively impact physiological functioning and, under chronic exposure, accumulate over the lifespan and contribute to growing disparities in biological risk,” they wrote.
“Furthermore, if such environmental, behavioural, and mental factors contribute to an acceleration of the aging process, we would expect that persons who are aging the fastest should have the highest risk of mortality, and thus lower life expectancy.”