“There has been evidence before that if you’re stressed you age a bit more quickly”
An Irish doctor has explained how one thing we all struggle with at times is a factor that can accelerate ageing.
This comes as a new study is published in the journal of Cell Metabolism which suggests that stressful situations speed up the rate of ageing.
Things like undergoing surgery, having Covid or being pregnant are just some of the things that put stress on our bodies.
However, the new findings also show that this can be reversed and Luke O’Neill, Professor of Biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin, has explained how.
He told The Pat Kenny Show that this relates to more than just a few grey hairs showing up on a person’s head – but rather, it goes cell deep.
“We know stress is a bad thing, don’t we, and there has been evidence before that if you’re stressed you age a bit more quickly”, he said.
“Now this study really confirms that.
“Pregnancy, interestingly, was one – that ages a woman.
“PTSD is a big one, serious surgery and Covid. So severe Covid speeds up the ageing process.
“It’s all about your biological age versus your chronological age”.
Prof O’Neill said it is about how your actual DNA changes over time, and how people who experience more trauma in life will age quicker.
“They can measure what’s called epigenetic change,” he said.
“What that means is as you get older, your DNA changes – it gets stained with chemical marks.
“That increases as you age. If that speeds up, that means your biological age is increasing.
“They’ve very precise measurements on this”.
How to reverse ageing
Prof O’Neill went on to explain to Newstalk that being able to manage your stress is going to allow your body to heal and thus reduce the speed of epigenetic change.
“The most important part of this study is [that] it can be reversed,” he said.
“If you’ve been through a traumatic incident, there’s evidence you’ve aged more quickly.
“If you can then relax a bit, and destress after the incident, you can reverse this and clean the DNA.
“The marks come off the DNA again and you can reverse this increased ageing.
“We know that de-stressing is so important, but this kind of confirms this in a biochemical way.
“It’s all about handling stress: even if you’re in a stressful situation, if you can calm down [and] control your response to it this ageing process won’t be quite so rapid”.