How to Measure Your Biological Age

Sept. 11, 2020

There’s more than one way to measure how fast you’re ageing. There’s chronological age - the number of years you’ve been alive - and then there’s biological age, which you can think of as the total damage your body has accumulated over the years. Your chronological age may differ from your biological age, in which case it’s interesting to understand why. The good news is you can reduce your biological age by improving your lifestyle, which in turn can lengthen lifespan and healthspan. The question is, then, how to quantify biological age?

On this podcast, NBT Scientific Director Megan Hall talks about PhenoAge: a measure of biological age that can be determined by analyzing a shortlist of common blood markers. We talk about why PhenoAge is important and valid as a reliable measure of biological status, and how you can get your PhenoAge score. Megan also offers tips for improving your PhenoAge once you’ve got your baseline. This episode has a ton of information, so be sure to follow along with Megan’s outline.

Here’s the outline of this interview with Megan Hall:

[00:00:25] Arden Pope, PhD; Studies on the effects of air pollution on human health.

[00:01:15] Puppy update.

[00:05:54] Is ageing a disease? Article: Bulterijs, Sven, et al. "It is time to classify biological aging as a disease." Frontiers in genetics 6 (2015): 205.  

[00:06:35] Primary vs secondary ageing.

[00:08:02] Book: Lifespan: Why We Age - and Why We Don't Have To, by David A. Sinclair PhD.

[00:08:16] Ken Ford; STEM-Talk Podcast. Ken Ford on the NBT Podcast: Optimal Diet and Movement for Healthspan, Amplified Intelligence and More.

[00:09:19] Measuring ageing.

[00:13:09] Theories of ageing - more than 300 theories; Articles: Tosato, Matteo, et al. "The aging process and potential interventions to extend life expectancy." Clinical interventions in aging 2.3 (2007): 401. 2. da Costa, Joao Pinto, et al. "A synopsis on aging—Theories, mechanisms and future prospects." Ageing research reviews 29 (2016): 90-112. 3. Jin, Kunlin. "Modern biological theories of aging." Aging and disease 1.2 (2010): 72

[00:13:34] Grandmother hypothesis; Podcast: The Postmenopausal Longevity Paradox and the Evolutionary Advantage of Our Grandmothering Life History, with Kristen Hawkes, PhD.

[00:14:48] Program Theories and Damage Theories.

[00:17:45] Epigenetic clock theory of aging; Steven Horvath; Study: Horvath, Steve, and Kenneth Raj. "DNA methylation-based biomarkers and the epigenetic clock theory of ageing." Nature Reviews Genetics 19.6 (2018): 371

[00:19:02] Steven Horvath's TEDx talk: Epigenetic Clocks Help to Find Anti-Aging Treatments.

[00:20:47] Book: Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture, by David Kushner.

[00:21:43] DNA methylation; Article: Horvath, Steve. "DNA methylation age of human tissues and cell types." Genome biology 14.10 (2013): 3156.

[00:23:13] Offspring of semi-supercentenarians have lower epigenetic age; Study: Horvath, Steve, et al. "Decreased epigenetic age of PBMCs from Italian semi-supercentenarians and their offspring." Aging (Albany NY) 7.12 (2015): 1159

[00:23:36] Methylation based biological age associated with: 1.  breast cancer risk: Kresovich, Jacob K., et al. "Methylation-based biological age and breast cancer risk." JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute 111.10 (2019): 1051-1058. 2. Frailty: Breitling, Lutz Philipp, et al. "Frailty is associated with the epigenetic clock but not with telomere length in a German cohort." Clinical epigenetics 8.1 (2016): 21; 3. All-cause mortality: Marioni, Riccardo E., et al. "DNA methylation age of blood predicts all-cause mortality in later life." Genome biology 16.1 (2015): 1-12 and Christiansen, Lene, et al. "DNA methylation age is associated with mortality in a longitudinal Danish twin study." Aging cell 15.1 (2016): 149-154.

[00:24:46] PhenoAge as a biomarker of ageing for lifespan and healthspan; Study: Levine, Morgan E., et al. "An epigenetic biomarker of aging for lifespan and healthspan." Aging (Albany NY) 10.4 (2018): 573.

[00:29:06] Nine blood markers that make up PhenoAge.

[00:29:57] PhenoAge related to COVID-19; Study: Kuo, Chia-Ling, et al. "COVID-19 severity is predicted by earlier evidence of accelerated aging." medRxiv (2020)

[00:30:34] Combining PhenoAge with DNA methylation data as a predictor of mortality.

[00:33:28] Episode 59 of HumanOS podcast: Are You Biologically Older or Younger Than Your Chronological Age?

[00:33:58] Dr. Josh Turkett’s 4-quadrant model.

[00:34:00] Lifestyle factors that accelerate ageing: Sleep: Li, Xiaoyu, et al. "Association between sleep disordered breathing and epigenetic age acceleration: Evidence from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis." EBioMedicine 50 (2019): 387-394; Socioeconimic status, childhood and adult adversity: Liu, Zuyun, et al. "Associations of genetics, behaviors, and life course circumstances with a novel aging and healthspan measure: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study." PLoS medicine 16.6 (2019): e1002827; Education: Zhao, Wei, et al. "Education and lifestyle factors are associated with DNA methylation clocks in older African Americans." International journal of environmental research and public health 16.17 (2019): 3141.

[00:35:59] Protein; Podcast: Why You’re Probably Not Eating Enough Protein (How to Know for Sure), with Megan Hall.

[00:36:50] Book: The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health, by Justin Sonnenburg and Erica Sonnenburg.


[00:38:35] Patreon:

[00:39:33] Age reversal possible in humans? Study: Fahy, Gregory M., et al. "Reversal of epigenetic aging and immunosenescent trends in humans." Aging cell 18.6 (2019): e13028

[00:40:15] Simon Marshall, PhD.

[00:41:00] Interpreting your blood markers to understand PhenoAge.

[00:46:11] PhenoAge vs Predicted Age.

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