A UCLA study of seven ethnic groups concluded that Latinos age more slowly than the other ethnic groups analyzed.
“Latinos live longer than Caucasians, despite experiencing higher rates of diabetes and other diseases. Scientists refer to this as the ‘Hispanic paradox,’” said Steve Horvath, lead author of the study, in a UCLA announcement.
Horvath, a professor of human genetics at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, continued, “Our study helps explain this by demonstrating that Latinos age more slowly at the molecular level.”
Researchers used analyzed 18 DNA datasets of close to 6,000 people in the study, which analyzed seven ethnicities, according to the UCLA report on the study. Those groups included two African groups, African-Americans, Caucasians, East Asians, Latinos and a Bolivian indigenous group genetically linked to Latinos known as the Tsimane.
Latinos and the Latino-linked Tsimanes were found to age more slowly than the other five groups. The report noted that DNA from blood indicates how healthy someone’s immune system is. Tsimanes aged even more slowly than the Latino group.
Study coauthor Michael Gurven commented on common infections in the Tsimane, but said that they “show very little evidence of the chronic diseases that commonly afflict modern society.” Gurven is a professor in UC Santa Barbara’s anthropology department, and co-director of the Tsimane Life History and Health Project.
Latinos live three years longer than caucasians in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We suspect that Latinos’ slower aging rate helps neutralize their higher health risks, particularly those related to obesity and inflammation,” said Horvath. “Our findings strongly suggest that genetic or environmental factors linked to ethnicity may influence how quickly a person ages and how long they live.”
Study researchers concluded, in abstract:
“Epigenetic aging rates are significantly associated with sex, race/ethnicity, and to a lesser extent with CHD risk factors, but not with incident CHD outcomes. These results may help elucidate lower than expected mortality rates observed in Hispanics, older African-Americans, and women.
The UCLA study was published in the most recent issue of Genome Biology.
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