The Blood Matters Blog ·

How Old Are Your Organs? What a New Study on Organ Age Means for You

Our organs can age at extraordinarily different rates, according to a new study. Their biological ages don't just have the potential to differ – evidence suggests they can be critical indicators of future health, too.


"How old are you?"

That question may seem simple, but a new study suggests that the number of birthdays you've had may not be the most accurate age marker when it comes to your health.

A groundbreaking study published in Nature late last year found that a person's individual organs can age at different rates, and that those differences are closely connected to a person's overall health status.

By analyzing proteins found within thousands of blood samples, the study's authors were able to effectively estimate the difference between an organ's chronological age and its biological age, or in other words, its physical rate of aging.

Looking at 11 major organs, the researchers discovered that roughly 1 in 5 seemingly healthy adults over the age of 50 had one organ that showed "strongly accelerated age." Their findings on heart aging were perhaps the most troubling: those with accelerated heart aging were 250% more likely to experience heart failure.

While the idea of estimating a person's biological age isn't new – Google "biological age calculator" and you'll find over half a million results – identifying organ-specific biological age through blood protein analysis represents a new frontier for healthcare and personalized medicine.

"A molecular understanding of human organ aging is of critical importance to address the global disease burden of aging and could revolutionize patient care, preventative medicine and drug development," the researchers argue.

If this way of thinking about age is worrisome, consider this: we can't change how many trips we've taken around the sun, but we do have a say in the biological aging of our organs and bodies as a whole. Regular exercise, balanced diet, proper sleep and stress management practices are all excellent ways to improve overall health and lower biological aging.

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