It has been confirmed people do grow old at radically different rates
A group of scientists have carried out a study involving nearly one thousand 38-year-olds born in New Zealand in 1972 or 1973 until they were 38.
They have discovered that while most of those had biological ages close to the number of birthdays they had notched up, others were far younger or much older.
The experts studied 18 different ageing-related traits in the group when they turned 26, 32 and 38-years-old.
The tests included kidney, liver, lung and immune system function as well as assessments of metabolism, cholesterol, heart health and lung function.
Lead author Daniel Belsky at Duke University in North Carolina said: “The overwhelming majority are biologically in their mid-40s or younger, but there are a handful of cases who are in pretty bad shape.
“In the future, we’ll come to learn about the different lives that fast and slow ageing people have lived.”
The results across the age group showed that the biological ages of the 38-year-olds varied from 28 to 61.
Professor Richie Poulton of Otago University said: “As we expected, those who were biologically older at age 38 also appeared to have been ageing at a faster pace.
“A biological age of 40, for example, meant that person was ageing at a rate of 1.2 years per year over the 12 years the study examined.”
A good many participants had biological ages in the 50s, while one, described by scientists as an “extreme case”, had a biological age of 61-years-old.
That means that for every birthday over the past dozen years, their body had aged three years.
Results also showed that those who were ageing more rapidly were less physically able, showed cognitive decline and brain ageing, reported worse health, and looked older.