“Epigenetic Clock” Study Shows That Cells from Latinos Age More Slowly Than Those from Other Ethnic Groups; Finding May Help Explain “Latino Paradox”

A UCLA study may be the first to show results to help explain why Latinos age at a slower rate than other ethnic groups. The new work, described in an open-access article published online on August 11, 2016, in Genome Biology, may one day help scientists understand how to slow the aging process for everyone. The open-access article is titled “An Epigenetic Clock Analysis of Race/Ethnicity, Sex, and Coronary Heart Disease.” "Latinos live longer than Caucasians, despite experiencing higher rates of diabetes and other diseases. Scientists refer to this as the 'Hispanic paradox,'" said lead author Steve Horvath, Ph.D., 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." According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Latinos in the U.S. live an average of three years longer than Caucasians, with a life expectancy of 82 versus 79. At any age, healthy Latino adults face a 30% lower risk of death than other racial groups, reports a 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health. The UCLA team used several biomarkers, including an "epigenetic clock" developed by Dr. 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. For the current study, Dr. 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 (Tsimane) who are genetically related to Latinos. The Tsimane live in Bolivia.
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