In 2015, a University of Michigan study found that extreme poverty causes age-related diseases earlier in life. It also found that financial strain increases mortality risk. Later that year, another research which the Social Science & Medicine journal published, concluded similar conclusions. It said that the poor age faster because of hormonal imbalance.
An older study of 2006 said that people belonging to the lower class were biologically older than those who were from the higher class of society. Another study, this one from the University of Glasgow, found similar results.
Now a new study coming from researchers at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark have looked at the effects of financial adversity on late-middle-aged adults. They compared those who had been through monetary hardships with those who hadn’t. Researchers found that poverty related to accelerated aging. The European Journal of Ageing has published this report.
What Did The Study Find?
This study included participants who earned 60% less than the average. Scientists studied the effects on 5,575 individuals who experienced poverty in the 22-year period of 1987 to 2008. They looked at the age-related effects in terms of both physical and cognitive functionality.
The research work found that those who experienced poverty for 4 or more years had lower performance compared those who didn’t. They had higher inflammation levels in their blood as well. This showed that economical disturbance does lead to accelerated aging. Getting out of financial difficulties can protect against accelerated aging, suggested the study.
While experiencing economical hardships in later life triggered aging processes, poverty in early life for a short time didn’t. This is not the first study to indicate that poverty in later life shares a link with lowered cognitive and physical function. Previous studies have also come to similar conclusions.
Lead researcher of the study, Rikke Lund said, “Early aging also means more treatment at an earlier age, and it is a burden both to the individual and the society. With our results, we show that poor finances are a strong indicator of early aging — this knowledge can be used to prevent the problems.”
Limitations Of The Study
Though the study aligned with most other research works on the matter, it did have some limitations. First of all, it didn’t take into account any other factors that could cause adverse aging. Secondly, the study focused on participants based in Denmark only. It didn’t analyze the effects of poverty on different societies. Therefore, the research may not be applicable on a global level.
Poverty can effect your health negatively. While short periods of poverty may not lead to adverse aging, longer periods of four or more years can. This is as per a new study which did have some limitations, but its findings were in line with similar research works done previously. In this regard, steps must be taken to reduce prolonged poverty which can accelerate aging.