According to a research, women who live at high altitudes are likely to age faster. Scientists drew their conclusions after finding lower concentrations of hormones, which are important for maintaining health and youthfulness, in women living in the mountainous areas.
For comparison researchers looked at a control group of 160 women of similar age and ethnic origin who lived at just 150 m above sea level. They found concentrations of the hormones DHEA and DHEAS (dehydroepiandrosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate) rose more slowly during puberty in women living at high altitudes.
These steroid hormones are produced by the adrenal gland occur naturally in the bloodstream and brain tissue of all healthy individuals. They are important for physical and mental wellbeing, but levels decline with age.
The research team discovered the concentration of these hormones in women living at high altitude never reached the levels found in those living at sea level.
They found DHEA levels in mountain-living women aged between 65 and 75 were only at about 40% of the levels found in the control group. It's known that women living at high altitude are more susceptible to disease, and tend to die earlier.
"Research findings show that hanges in the levels of these hormones with age seem to be associated with both maturation and ageing, and that where you live affects this. "The early decline in the concentration of these hormones in women living at high altitude may suggest that women age earlier at high altitudes. "These hormonal changes might have a significant effect on the lives of women living in hihg altitude areas suh as the Andes, the Alps, the Rockies, and the Himalayas."
A number of hormone systems change with age, under normal circumstances, including DHEA and DHEAS, testosterone in men and growth hormones in both sexes. "Maybe the decline in one of these three hormone levels is key to the ageing process and maybe if you reverse it, you might reverse the ageing process."