Faster Aging Might Explain Cancers Among the Young

New research links advanced biological age with higher cancer risk
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2024 9:35 AM CDT
Faster Aging Might Explain Cancers Among the Young
This image depicts the detection of malignant cells in a blood sample.   (GettyImages/wildpixel)

The rise in cancer diagnoses among young adults might be explained by "accelerated aging," or a more advanced biological age than true age. Your chronological age, the number of years you've been alive, isn't the same as biological age, which refers to wear and tear on the body. A person who lives a sedentary lifestyle with high stress may have a biological age significantly higher than their true age. In surveying the medical records and blood samples of 148,724 people aged 37 to 54 through the UK Biobank, researchers determined those with markers indicating an advanced biological age were linked to higher rates of cancer diagnosis before the age of 55, per CNN.

Together with colleagues, Dr. Yin Cao, an associate professor of surgery at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, first came up with an algorithm to calculate participants' biological age based on a set of nine biomarkers found in blood, including high white blood cell counts and low amounts of the liver protein albumin. They then compared biological age and chronological age to come up with a group of participants who seemed to be aging more rapidly than others. According to the research presented Sunday at the American Association of Cancer Research's annual conference in San Diego, people born in or after 1965 were 17% more likely to show accelerated aging than those born from 1950 through 1954.

Researchers found those with accelerated aging also had a higher risk of early-onset cancer. Those with the most accelerated aging had a 100% higher risk of lung cancer before age 55, a more than 80% higher risk of uterine cancer, and more than 60% higher risk of a gastrointestinal tumor, compared with those with the smallest degree of accelerated aging, per CNN. There are limitations to the research, which considered only single blood tests rather than those taken over many years. Still, researcher and doctoral student Ruiyi Tian says "interventions to slow biological aging could be a new avenue for cancer prevention, and screening efforts tailored to younger individuals with signs of accelerated aging could help detect cancers early," per HealthDay. (More cancer stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.