Biological Clock Ages Your Breasts

Women's breast tissue ages at a faster rate than the rest of the body, according to research from an article published in Genome Biology. Discoveries from this study are shedding new insight on breast cancer research and the aging process. Conducted by professor of human genetics and biostatistics at University of California, Los Angeles, Steve Horvath, the study revealed a biological clock in our genomes that can help us better understand the way different parts of our bodies degenerate. By studying the process that chemically alters DNA, methylation, Horvath created a method that measures the course of aging. His findings? Not all parts of the body age at the same rate. In fact, he found that while most of the samples taken from organs, tissues, and cell types matched their chronological ages, breast tissue was biologically older than other parts.

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What The Biological Clock Tells Us About Our Body

According to the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR), a person's biological age, as opposed to their chronological age, is considered a more important indicator of health by some physicians. If this is the case, Horvath's discoveries are concerning. His research concluded that, while healthy breast tissue was found to be two to three years older than a woman's body, healthy tissue around breast tumors dated other organs by approximately twelve years. Tumor tissue surpassed that, dating the body by a whopping 36 years. "Age is one of the primary risk factors of cancer, " Horvath told the Guardian," so these types of results could explain why cancer of the breast is so common."

Turning Back The Clock

The biological clock Horvath created may have revealed some disturbing information about our bodies, but it can also mean much more for the medical field. "The clock will become an important biomarker for studying new therapeutic approaches to keeping us young," Horvath says in a press release. If we know how the aging process works, we have a greater opportunity for learning how to slow it down.

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A big contender in the race to find the well of youth, stem cells are a promising strategy. New research is constantly surfacing about this method of confronting the aging process. Horvath also researched pluripotent stem cells, which are adult cells that have been turned into emryonic stem calls. His findings were encouraging: all stem cells act as newborns. "More importantly," says Horvath,"the process of transforming a person's cells into pluripotent stem cells resets the cells' clock to zero."

How? It's all in the flexibility of the cells, which according to AFAR, "may be used in a variety of ways to heal or even regenerate damaged tissue and confront many of the diseases and conditions associated with aging."