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Poverty accelerates aging
Genetics, lifestyle and environment are all factors in one way or another that influence when and how we age. However, financial position also plays an important role. Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have found that four or more years of life below the poverty line in adulthood play a significant role in the manifestation of signs of aging in the body.
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Genetics, lifestyle and environment are all factors in one way or another that influence when and how we age. However, financial position also plays an important role. Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have found that four or more years of life below the poverty line in adulthood play a significant role in the manifestation of signs of aging in the body. They published the results of their work in the European Journal of Aging.
Scientists tested 5,500 middle-aged people using various markers of aging: physical performance, cognitive function, and inflammatory levels. They then compared the results to the participants' income in the 22 years leading up to the test. An annual income 60% below the average income is considered relative poverty.
Thus, the researchers found that there is a significant correlation between financial problems and early aging. According to one of the study's authors, Professor Rikke Lund, this factor should be taken into account when developing preventive measures.
“Early aging also means the need for more frequent treatment and at an earlier age, which is a burden for both the individual and society. Our results show that poor financial standing is an important indicator of early aging. This information can be used to prevent some problems. Many people only begin to experience a noticeable deterioration in their physical capabilities with age, and in their youth they do not yet realize that their body has begun to age prematurely,”says Lund.
Participants underwent cognitive and physical strength tests, which showed that people who lived below the poverty line for more than four years in adulthood performed significantly worse than those who never fell below the poverty line. They measured the strength of the muscles in the hand and asked them to sit on the chair as many times as possible within 30 seconds. The results showed that participants in the group with financial difficulties were able to sit on a chair half as often as people without financial problems, and their hand muscle strength was 1.2 kg less. In addition, the researchers measured the participants' inflammatory levels. High levels of inflammation are a sign that the body is in a state of anxiety and a marker of disease and aging. Research showsthat people with financial problems had higher levels of inflammation.
“The results show that groups that face severe financial problems multiple times in adulthood age earlier than others. More broadly, the results may prompt a review of measures to reduce social security benefits,”says Rikke Lund.