Do people who live in rented houses age faster?


In addition to our actual age which is +1 per year, there is a biological age. It represents the aging rate of cells, the basic unit of our body, and may differ from actual age. The rate of this biological aging can be assessed by detecting epigenetic changes in individuals.

In the new study, researchers from The University of Adelaide, Australia, and the University of Essex, UK, examined the relationship between different housing-related factors and individual biological aging. relation. Scientists used data from 1,420 subjects collected in the U.K. Household Longitudinal Study between 1991 and 2020, and obtained their health information and blood samples. Based on their epigenetic information- DNA methylation—an assessment of their rate of biological aging.

Next, the researchers analyzed all possible housing factors in the survey data, including material factors (ownership, housing type, government subsidies, urban or rural, central heating or not, etc.) and psychosocial factors (housing costs, payment arrears, crowding degree, etc.). After controlling for potential influences such as gender, nationality, education level, socioeconomic status, and financial hardship, the researchers found that private renters biologically age at a faster rate than those who own the homes they live in, even if they own the homes they live in. The fact that the principal carries a loan would not affect this conclusion.

The researchers also found that the impact of renting on a person's physiological aging is much higher than unemployment and smoking cessation: For individuals who rent to private landlords, the aging impact coefficient is 0.046 years, which is almost the same as unemployment (0.027 years) and smoking cessation (0.021 years). 2 times.

However, not all "houselessness" will cause people to grow old. The biological aging of people living in lower-cost, more stable public housing is no different than that of those who own homes.

In addition, when an individual's past living experience is taken into account, a history of house payment arrears or a poor living environment (contamination, filth, etc.) are also associated with faster biological aging. The paper points out that an individual's ownership of their home, as well as the potential for repeated rent arrears, are important psychosocial factors that link housing status to individual health.

However, epigenetic changes are reversible, so the above effects can be saved or circumvented by changing housing policies. The researchers suggest that greater support for housing expenses, while increasing limits on residents' housing costs, could protect people from the adverse health consequences of falling behind on rent or renting. Because DNA methylation is a process that is susceptible to environmental regulation, there is still hope for mitigating or reversing the “acceleration of aging” in populations experiencing housing stress.

At the same time, the authors of the paper also admitted that the study has many limitations. For example, it is an observational study and cannot determine the causal relationship between housing status and DNA methylation changes; the research data does not include the examination of the subjects’ current housing variables, and only white subjects from Europe may exist. Potential geographic and racial bias.

They say they hope to be able to collect in-depth population DNA methylation data in the future to better understand the impact of housing status on biological aging across life. Epigenetic mechanisms are an important interface through which the body interprets and responds to stress, and this study once again reinforces this idea at home in each of us.