There are many criticisms that Latinos face everyday, but the best one is that we don’t age as fast as other ethnic groups. Maybe it’s because of our diet or just good genes, but now we have scientific research to back up our youthful looks! A recent UCLA study is the first to show that Latinos age at a slower rate than other ethnic groups, and we couldn’t be happier!
The findings of the study are published in the recent issue of Genome Biology. “Latinos live longer than Caucasians, despite experiencing higher rates of diabetes and other diseases. Scientists refer this as the ‘Hispanic paradox,’” said lead author Steve Horvath, a professor of human genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “Our study helps explain this by demonstrating that Latinos age more slowly at the molecular level.”
On average, Latinos living in the U.S. have a life expectancy of 82, three years longer than Caucasians. Those that take care of themselves, eat right, exercise, and lead a healthy lifestyle also face a 30% lower risk of death than other racial group, reports a 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health.
The UCLA team used several biomarkers, including an “epigenetic clock” developed by Horvath in 2013, to track an epigenetic shift linked to aging in the genome. Epigenetics is the study of changes to the DNA molecule that influence which genes are active but don’t alter the DNA sequence itself.
Horvath and his colleagues analyzed 18 sets of data on DNA samples from nearly 6,000 people. The participants represented seven different ethnicities: two African groups, African-Americans, Caucasians, East Asians, Latinos and an indigenous people who are genetically related to Latinos. Called the Tsimane, the latter group lives in Bolivia.
When the scientists examined the DNA from blood–which reveals the health of a person’s immune system—they were struck by differences linked to ethnicity. In particular, the scientists noticed that, after accounting for differences in cell composition, the blood of Latinos and the Tsimane aged more slowly than other groups.