A new study found a link between certain activities and psychological disorders, and advanced aging. Researchers found that people who smoked cigarettes, were obese, or suffered from psychological disorders, including ADHD, depression, or anxiety, as a child, aged faster when they were adults.
The long-term study tracked nearly 1,000 people from when they were three years old until they turned 45. They discovered that people who had two or more of those health problems walked slower, had an older brain age by 2.5 years, and looked four years older than those who did not have those health issues as children.
The researchers also tracked people who had asthma but did not find evidence that they aged any faster than their peers who did not.
“This adds to that past research by expanding it to these four conditions, of which we only found that three were associated with accelerated aging,” said the study’s first author Kyle Bourassa, a clinical psychology researcher and advanced research fellow at the Durham VA Health Care System, according to CNN. This study “shows that these have independent effects, so each of them is exerting their own association with later aging.”
Bourassa noted that many of the children diagnosed with asthma were treated, while those with other conditions were not. He said that future studies could shed light on the impact that treating obesity or prescribing medication to children with psychological disorders would have on the aging process.
“The hope is if we were to study a cohort now, a much higher proportion of those children and adolescents are actually going to be treated for these things, which will reduce the risk of accelerated aging later in life,” Bourassa said. “Our paper reaffirms that those are important treatments and those kinds of investments younger in the lifespan could net big benefits in terms of both health and the cost of health care later on as well.”