Monday, November 11, 2019

UCLA Study Shows That Latinos Age Slower

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UCLA study is the first to show that Latinos age at a slower rate than other ethnic groups. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Latinos in the United States live an average of three years longer than Caucasians, with a life expectancy of 82 versus 79. At any age, healthy Latino adults face a 30 percent lower risk of death than other racial groups, according to a 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health.

“Latinos live longer than Caucasians, despite experiencing higher rates of diabetes and other diseases. Scientists refer to this as the ‘Hispanic paradox,’” said lead author Steve Horvath, a professor of human genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “Our study helps explain this by demonstrating that Latinos age more slowly at the molecular level.” Horvath and his colleagues analyzed 18 sets of data on DNA samples from nearly 6,000 people. The participants represented seven ethnicities

The UCLA team used several biomarkers, including an “epigenetic clock” developed by Horvath in 2013, which is the study of changes to the DNA molecule that influence which genes are active but don’t alter the DNA sequence. When the scientists examined the DNA from blood — which reveals the health of a person’s immune system — they were struck by differences linked to ethnicity. In particular, the scientists noticed that the blood of Latinos and the Tsimane aged more slowly than other groups.

According to Horvath, the UCLA research points to an epigenetic explanation for Latinos’ longer life spans. “We suspect that Latinos’ slower aging rate helps neutralize their higher health risks, particularly those related to obesity and inflammation,” said Horvath, who is also a professor of biostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “Our findings strongly suggest that genetic or environmental factors linked to ethnicity may influence how quickly a person ages and how long they live.”

The Tsimane aged even more slowly than Latinos. The biological clock calculated the age of their blood as two years younger than Latinos and four years younger than Caucasians. This reflects the group’s minimal signs of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity or clogged arteries, the researchers said. Horvath and his colleagues next plan to study the aging rate of other human tissues and to identify the molecular mechanism that protects Latinos from aging.

UCLA Newsroom