A recent study published in the journal Cell has found that stress can have an aging effect on the body, but recovery can reverse the process. The research was conducted by several schools, including Harvard Medical School and Duke University. The researchers used biological age-estimation tools to measure changes at the epigenetic level, which determines how gene expression is affected by circumstances. They found that biological aging was increased during stressful situations, such as surgery, severe Covid-19 infection, and pregnancy, but was reduced after the stressful event was over. In some cases, aging was fully or partially restored in just days or months.
The study suggests that chronological and biological age are not always the same, and a person’s biological age can be younger or older than their chronological age depending on their lifestyle. Additionally, the researchers discovered that an anti-inflammatory drug was linked to faster age-recovery time in people recovering from severe Covid-19. The authors hint at the idea of therapeutic interventions, such as an “anti-aging drug,” that could reverse transient increases in biological age.
However, the study has limitations, and it is not clear how this shorter-term aging and recovery pattern may or may not affect long-term aging. Further research will be required to answer that question. Nonetheless, the study suggests that the physical and emotional toll of stress might not be permanent and can be reversed. Therefore, it is crucial to take the time to recover from stressful events.