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How your breasts age

A study finds that breasts age quicker than the rest of a woman’s body.

Woman looking and breasts

Ever peek down and wonder if your breasts are sagging more? The harsh truth is that, yes, they may be doing just that. It’s quite common as women age.

New research published in Genome Biology indicates that breasts age faster than other body parts. The findings could help scientists better understand the aging process and develop methods to slow it down.

In his research, Steve Horvath, a professor of human genetics at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and of biostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, examined how age affects the methylation process (one of the four critical processes that make up human DNA). He used 121 sets of data on the process in healthy and cancerous human tissue, focusing on biological markers that are altered as humans age.

In most cases, the age of the tissue was the same as its chronological age. But breast tissue showed something different.

Regular tissue vs. tumor tissue

Breast tissue was about two to three years older than other parts of women’s bodies — something that could explain why breast cancer is most common among females.

He found that tumor tissue was, on average, 36 years older than the healthy tissue. This may shed light on why age is a risk factor for cancer.

Even healthy breast tissue is affected. “If a woman has breast cancer, the healthy tissue next to the tumor is an average of 12 years older than the rest of her body,” Horvath said.

Horvath also discovered that humans’ biological clocks tick faster when they are born and are young; then they slow to a more constant rate around the age of 20.

Halting the aging process

Dr. Charlie Seltzer, a physician based in Philadelphia, said that inflammation is a major player in the aging process, so anything that can lessen it may slow it down, at least in theory. He recommends fish oil, the antioxidant resveratrol, coenzyme Q10, vitamin B12 and folic acid supplements are all good additions for a healthy lifestyle.

“From a lifestyle standpoint, getting adequate sleep, maintaining a low body-fat percentage, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and engaging in regular exercise are essential,” Seltzer added.

Using lotions containing collagen to bolster skin’s elasticity (or cocoa butter to reduce stretch marks), or undergoing hormone replacement could also slow down the breast aging process, according to this source.

More on breast health

Dense breast tissue can hinder breast cancer detection
Daily vitamins may increase breast cancer survival
The connection between breast implants and your sex life

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