Poor people age faster than their well-to-do counterparts because they have shorter telomeres, says a new Scottish study.
Telomeres are the cap-like molecular structures on the tips of the chromosomes that scientists say are closely linked to biological age.
"We know that people who are born with shorter telomeres than normal also have a shorter lifespan," CBS News quoted Dr. Maria Blasco of the Spanish National Cancer Research Center in Madrid as telling The Independent in May.
She created a 700-dollar test that supposedly predicts aging by measuring telomeres.
In the new study, which took 10 years, researchers from the University of Glasgow compared telomere length in 382 local residents.
Those who had a household income less than 41,000 dollars, their telomeres shortened by 7.7 percent over the study, while telomeres for those who made more money shortened by only 0.6 percent.
They also noticed Glaswegians who rented reduced their telomere length by 8.7 percent, compared to homeowners who only saw a 2.2 percent length reduction.
Diet also contributed to telomere length. Those with poor diets shortened their telomeres by 7.7 percent, compared to healthy eaters that only saw a 1.8 percent reduction overall.
Blasco thinks short telomeres are linked to worse health.
She told The Daily Mail that the 10 percent of the population with the shortest telomeres "have a significantly higher risk of developing a number of diseases, such as heart disease, or cognitive defects such as Alzheimer's."
The study will be publishing in the upcoming issue of PLoS One.