Genetics, lifestyle and environment are all factors that somehow influence when and how we all age. Now, researchers have revealed that four or more years with an income below the relative poverty threshold during adult life may accelerate the ageing process.
For the study published in the journal European Journal of Ageing, the researchers have tested 5,500 middle-aged persons, using various ageing markers: physical capability, cognitive function and inflammatory level.
The results were then compared with the participants' income throughout the 22 years leading up to the test. An annual income of 60 percent below the median income is considered relative poverty.
"We have found that there is a significant correlation between financial challenges and early ageing. And this is important in order to be able to instigate preventative measures", said study co-author Rikke Lund, Professor at the University of Copenhagen.
"With our results, we show that poor finances are a strong indicator of early ageing - this knowledge can be used to prevent the problems," she added.
For the findings, the participants have been through both physical and cognitive tests, each of which is an expression of general strength and function.
The researchers measured the participants' grip strength, how many times they could get up from and sit on a chair in 30 seconds and how high they could jump.
"There is a significant difference between the test results. People who have been below the relative poverty threshold for four or more years in their adult life perform significantly worse than those who have never been below the threshold," Lund said.
The results show that the financially challenged group, relative to the comparison group, can get up and sit down two times less per 30 seconds and that their grip strength is reduced by 1.2 kilos.
In addition, the researchers have measured the inflammatory level of the participants.
A high inflammatory level is a sign that the body is in a state of alert and can likewise be used as a marker for illness and ageing.The study shows that financially challenged also had higher inflammatory levels.