Poor people age faster than rich

People in lower social classes are biologically older than those in higher classes, according to research.

A study of 1,552 volunteers revealed a low social status can accelerate the ageing process by about seven years.

The UK/US team analysed key pieces of DNA called telomeres which are thought to correlate to biological age.

The scientists, writing in the journal Aging Cell, believe the stress associated with belonging to a lower social class may be to blame.

Socio-economic status has been shown to have a major impact on health, and there is evidence that a lower status is associated with increased risks of some diseases, infant mortality and life-span, according to BBC News.

"Not only does social class affect health and age-related diseases, it seems to have an impact on the aging process itself," said Dr Tim Spector of St Thomas's Hospital in London.

Each time a cell divides, telomeres shorten. The loss is associated with aging which is why telomeres are thought to hold the secrets of youth and the aging process, Reuters reports.

The researchers compared telomere length of 1,552 women twins in Britain between the ages of 18 and 75 who were assigned to one of five groups based on National Statistics' Socio-Economic Classification.

Even after adjusting for factors such as obesity, smoking and exercise, which can also influence aging, the scientists found that telomeres in women of lower economic status were significantly shorter, the AP reports.

The average difference was equivalent to about seven years of telomere loss, which also could not be explained by education or income, according to the study published in the journal Aging Cell.

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