A new study conducted by researchers at University of North Carolina suggests that toxins present in the environment may be accelerating the aging process.
According to the researchers, just 30 percent of the aging process could be attributed to genetic processes, which meant that the remaining 70 percent was caused by exposure to environment factors. The researchers conducted their study on a group of mice, exposing them to the environmental factors that affect aging, or gerontogens, such as cigarette smoke, UV light etc.
The mice were then analyzed for accumulation of senescence, a biological process in which healthy cells are damaged and lose their ability to divide. The researchers found that mice exposed to cigarette smoke and UV light displayed accelerated aging compared to those that were obese or exposed to arsenic. The study has been published in the journal Trends in Molecular Medicine.
"The rate of physiologic, or molecular, aging differs between individuals in part because of exposure to 'gerontogens' - environmental factors that affect aging. By identifying and avoiding gerontogens, we will be able to influence ageing and life expectancy at a public health level", Dr Sharpless said.