Stress really does age you but the biological effects ‘can be reversed’, study says

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Research indicates ageing may be more dynamic than we initially thought — increasing during periods of stress and then bouncing back after recovery. Photo: Pexels


(Dave Yasvinski/ Healthing) — A new study has shown that it’s possible to turn back the clock, at least when it comes to the effects of stress on your biological age.

The research, published in the journal Cell Metabolism , found that stressful events, such as surgery, pregnancy and severe cases of COVID-19 , all increase a person’s biological age but that these effects can be temporary and may resolve during recovery. This is because a person’s biological age, unlike the fixed nature of their chronological age, reflects the health of their underlying cells and tissues and may be influenced by factors such as disease, environmental exposure and lifestyle changes.

“Traditionally, biological age has been thought to just go up and up, but we hypothesized that it’s actually much more dynamic,” said Jesse Poganik , lead author of the study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “Severe stress can trigger biological age to increase but if that stress is short-lived, the signs of biological aging can be reversed.”

To determine the “biological clock,” or the health of the cells and tissues of participants, the team measured levels of DNA methylation — molecular changes that may point to an increased risk of mortality. (…)

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