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Premature aging: What is it, and why does it happen?

6 October 2022

To get old is one of the stages of life. What is not normal is premature aging. Do you know what it is? It is nothing more than the appearance of signs of aging accelerated around the age of 35 (Watson, 2019).

Now, you may wonder why it happens. Well, although it is somewhat complex, we summarise it as follows (Forrester, 2021; Noren, 2022):

  • From birth, we are exposed to certain stressful situations.
  • Some of them, like bad diets or demanding jobs, accelerate the wear and tear of our bodies.
  • When this happens, all kinds of signs of aging can appear.
  • We do not all age in the same way because these stressful situations occur more often in some people.
  • In addition to these social factors, all of us humans are predisposed to aging.

With all this, it is understandable how aging accelerates after a hectic and stressful youth. Today, we will talk more about this important topic and its relationship with menopause.

Risk factors for premature aging

The different causes of premature aging that we mentioned do not generate the signs of aging by themselves. In this sense, they are risk factors added to the person’s predisposition to aging (Noren, 2022).

Here, we give you a list of some of the most critical risk factors for premature aging (Forrester, 2021):

  • Works in complex or very demanding conditions.
  • Presence of obesity, high blood pressure, or diabetes mellitus.
  • Smoking.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Physical inactivity.
  • Low socioeconomic status.
  • Low sociability with other people.

Another significant issue in understanding how these risk factors work is that, although they affect us over the years, there are periods of life when we are more vulnerable, such as menopause.

Thus, in menopause, there is a decrease in the hormones that help repair the skin, such as oestrogen. These hormones collaborate in the production of collagen and elastin (proteins that provide elasticity and resistance to the skin) (Thornton, 2013). Therefore, without this help, the signs of aging can appear faster (Finch, 2014; Navarro-Pardo, 2021).

Signs of premature aging in menopause

As mentioned above, the key to premature aging is the appearance of common signs, but with rapid evolution. Here are some common signs that can appear during menopause (Baby, 2022; Watson, 2019):

  • Hyperpigmentation or the appearance of sunspots.
  • Dry skin.
  • Hair loss.
  • Wrinkles
  • Weakness of the blood vessels in the skin.

Some of these signs are also common signs of menopause, so you must know what menopause is.

How to combat it?

Although we cannot stop the fact that we are getting older, we can reduce the signs by following some simple tips (Baby, 2022; Johnson, 2021; Watson, 2019):

  • Maintain a balanced diet with no excess fats or carbohydrates.
  • Also, look for foods or supplements with other necessary nutrients, such as vitamins for the skin.
  • Avoid smoking as much as possible, and if you consume alcohol, try to do so in moderation.
  • To help keep the skin hydrated, use moisturising creams and oils.
  • Remember that sun protection is essential, so use creams with sun filters.
  • Create skincare routines where you clean your skin at least once a day.
  • Physical activity is important. Try to practice at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week.
  • Among these aerobic exercises are running, swimming, bicycling, and others.
  • Sleep helps to repair your body, so try not to let your sleep be interrupted.

Now that you know what premature aging is and how complex its causes and risk factors are, don’t hesitate to fight it with all these tips.

References

Baby, D. (2022). Premature aging: Is your body aging faster than it should be? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/ss/slideshow-body-aging-faster

Finch C. E. (2014). The menopause and aging, a comparative perspective. The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology, 142, 132–141. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsbmb.2013.03.010

Forrester, S. N., Zmora, R., Schreiner, P. J., Jacobs, D. R., Jr, Roger, V. L., Thorpe, R. J., Jr, & Kiefe, C. I. (2021). Accelerated aging: A marker for social factors resulting in cardiovascular events?. SSM – population health, 13, 100733. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssmph.2021.100733

Johnson, T. (2021). Tips for better skin after menopause. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/menopause/ss/slideshow-better-skin-after-menopause

Navarro-Pardo, E., Holland, C. A., & Cano, A. (2018). Sex hormones and healthy psychological aging in women. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 9. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2017.00439

Noren Hooten, N., Pacheco, N. L., Smith, J. T., & Evans, M. K. (2022). The accelerated aging phenotype: The role of race and social determinants of health on aging. Aging research reviews, 73, 101536. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arr.2021.101536

Thornton M. J. (2013). Estrogens and aging skin. Dermato-endocrinology, 5(2), 264–270. https://doi.org/10.4161/derm.23872

Watson, K. (2019). How to slow the signs of premature aging. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/premature-aging#signs-to-watch-for

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