Study Finds Stress Accelerates Aging, Recovery Slows It

  • 2 Min To Read
  • a year ago

Researchers have found that trauma or stressful life events can rapidly speed up the pace of biological aging, but they have also discovered that recovery from such experiences can return aging to its baseline. The study is one of the first to show that aging is not a one-way street and that it can be reversed. The research was possible because of advances in measuring DNA methylation, which allows investigators to look at individual sites on DNA where methylation predictably occurs over time. The sensitivity of these second-generation “DNA methylation clocks” has increased to the point where they can show changes in biological aging measured in days or weeks. The researchers used blood samples from older patients before emergency hip surgery, the morning after, and 4 to 7 days into recovery, finding significant increases in biological age markers. “Remarkably, this increase occurred in under 24 hours, and biological age returned to baseline 4 to 7 days post-surgery,” the researchers noted. In general, the aging process for people returns to its normal baseline after a stressor is removed. But there can be differences between people, with some returning to their former chronological age completely, some partially, and others not at all. Florence Comite, MD, a Yale-trained precision medicine doctor and founder of the Comite Center for Precision Medicine & Health in New York City, sees this as a breakthrough, stating that aging doesn't happen in a steady state of decline and that there are a lot of issues going on under the surface, including changes in muscle, hormones, metabolism, and the way the body puts down visceral fat into different organ systems. Family history and genetics can also alter aging. Overall, the finding that people can reverse a negative effect of stress or trauma is positive. Interventions to turn off the acceleration of aging linked with stress or trauma would most likely work for people with chronic disease, chronic effects of disease, serious infections like COVID, or even cancer.


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