Don't Fear The Reaper: Lessons From The Epigenetic Clock

Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

Epigenetics is the study of how lifestyle, environment and other factors can flip the switch on genes, allowing them either to express or be silenced. To model this effect and quantify healthy aging, researchers use the epigenetic clock, which predicts chronologic age by measuring DNA-based markers of biologic age. When epigenetic markers predict a chronologic age that’s higher than true age, the DNA is said to be "age accelerated." Age acceleration increases the risk of chronic diseases and shortens lifespan. The epigenetic age of centenarians, as a group, is lower than their chronologic age by almost nine years, making them superstars of successful aging.

The Horvath Clock is a highly accurate tool for measuring how well epigenetics is working. It predicts life expectancy and has been applied to multiple tissues and organs to develop strategies to optimize healthy aging. It links age acceleration to the development of cancer, immune disorders, obesity and Alzheimer’s Disease. Stress, by producing steroid hormones, is an epigenetic factor that makes the clock tick faster.

Epigenetics debunks the genes-are-destiny dogma and can be used to shape a healthy aging action plan. For example, menopause, which is known to accelerate epigenetic aging, is commonly characterized by weight gain, sleep disturbance and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. The action plan for menopause should include regular physical activity, proper nutrition, and 6 - 8 hours of daily sleep, all of which are modifiable epigenetic factors. The trick is to harness the benefits of robust behaviors, lifestyle and environmental inputs that drive epigenetics to lower biologic age, protect health and promote wellness.

Some people look great for their age, others are mistaken for someone much older. Some people “feel” their age, others don’t. Why not act to beat the clock?

Disclaimer: This article was created for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Oobroo™ Inc or its staff.

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