Growing up poor makes kids’ DNA look old

by Rachel Baker on April 9, 2014

This is a really interesting article about a study that looks at the DNA of children that grow up poor. Based on the first paragraph it seems as if this finding may be a good argument in the “fix poverty issues and you begin to decrease the cost of healthcare on our society debate”.

Children who grow up in underprivileged households show signs of premature chromosomal aging, reports New Scientist. Moreover, this form of genetic aging might explain why adults who grow up in poor or otherwise stressful environments are more likely to develop serious health problems, such as cancer, later in life.

It’s no secret that human beings become more vulnerable to disease as they age. Scientists think that part of this phenomenon can be explained by protective caps found on the end of our chromosomes, called telomeres, which grow shorter as we age. Telomeres help prevent our genes from sustaining various forms of damage, so their shortening can increase a person’s likelihood of developing cancer, and of showing general signs of aging. But older adults aren’t the only ones who experience telomere shortening. According to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, children who grow up in disadvantaged environments also experience significant levels of telomere shortening — and this effect is apparent by the time they turn nine years old.

Read the whole article here:

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