According to a new study, lifespan is affected by the rate at which bodies expand early in life.
Scientists looking at growth patterns in stickleback fish discovered that bodies that grow quickly accumulate greater tissue damage, with life-shortening results.
A team from Glasgow University altered the growth rate of 240 fish by exposing them to brief cold or warm spells, putting them ahead or behind their normal growth schedule.
They noticed the fish got back on track once their environmental temperature was returned to normal, but the change in growth rate affected their rate of ageing.
The slow-growing fish lived for around 30 percent longer than the stickleback's two-year average, with a lifespan of nearly 1,000 days.
The lifespan of the fast-growing fish was 15 percent shorter than normal.
Professor Neil Metcalfe, from the university's Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, said the 'striking' results occurred despite all the fish reaching the same adult size.
"You might well expect a machine built in haste to fail quicker than one put together carefully and methodically, and our study suggests that this may be true for bodies too," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
"The results of the study are striking. It appears that bodies which grow quickly accumulate greater tissue damage than those that grow more slowly, and their lifespan is substantially reduced as a result," he asserted.
He said the findings may also apply to many other species, including humans, since the manner in which organs and tissues grow and age is similar across very different kinds of animal.
"It has already been documented in humans, for example, that rapid growth in early childhood is associated with a greater risk of developing ailments later in life such as cardiovascular disease in middle or old age, possibly because of the way in which the tissues of a fast-grown heart are laid down," Professor Metcalfe added.