The Body Part That Is Older Than The Rest Of Your Body
Guessing peoples’ age is a common pastime in social situations. Many times, people turn out to be a decade older than they look, or sometimes, a decade younger. But on the cellular level, scientists have discovered that some parts of the body follow a different timetable than our common chronological one. Biology can follow different clock based on a number of built-in setting.
The Tale of Telomeres
Telomeres are the protective ends of the chromosomes in the human bodies. These telomeres help to keep chromosomes from deteriorating or combining with other chromosomes, which can affect how cells age and die. Each time a cell divides, the telemere shortens slightly. Scientists now know that the length of these telomeres correspond to biological age, which can be different than chronological age. Maintaining telemore length by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help to reduce the risk of disease and early death.
Methylation Levels and Biological Age
Another part of the biological picture is methylation levels of DNA in the body. Methylation is a signaling tool that cells use to lock genes in the “off” position. This process of methylation appears to be critical to cell differentiation and embryonic development. A geneticist a the University of California-Los Angeles Medical School, named Steve Horvath, found that most types of body cells have the same methylation levels. However, some do not, and these differences can explain why some parts of the body are more vulnerable to disease than others. Horvath found that tumor tissue can be as much as 36 years older than other tissue in the body.
Breast Tissue Has A Higher Biological Age
Using these scientific metrics, researchers have found that breast tissue is often three years older than other organ tissue in the body. In addition, breast tissue that is located near tumor growth can be as much as twelve years older than other tissue.
Heart Tissue Has A Lower Biological Age
Heart tissue appears to be younger than other types of tissue, mainly because the heart recruits stem cells, which are new cells, into becoming new heart tissue.
Turning Back the Biological Clock
This new information about how the human body ages will eventually lead to new ways of treating disease and an entirely new field of preventative care. It may be that science will be able to repair telemeres and change methylation levels to add more years to the human lifespan and provide better function as people age.