Early-life inequalities and biological ageing: A multi-system biological health score approach in the Understanding Society study

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Title: Early-life inequalities and biological ageing: A multi-system biological health score approach in the Understanding Society study
Authors: Karimi, M
Castagne, R
Delpierre, C
Albertus, G
Berger, E
Vineis, P
Kumari, M
Kelly-Irving, M
Chadeau, M
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Social position is known to play a role in the quality of ageing, notably through the stimulation/dysregulation of key physiological systems in response to external stresses. Using data from one wave of the Understanding Society panel study including 9,088 participants, we defined, as an extension of the Allostatic Load, a synthetic biological health score (BHS) capturing the wear-and-tear of four physiological systems (endocrine, inflammatory, cardiovascular, and metabolic systems), and two organs (liver and kidney). We used 16 established blood-derived biomarkers of these systems to calculate the BHS and explored the relative contribution of socio-economic position to the BHS and its main components across age groups. We identified a systematic decreasing education-related gradient of the BHS (p<0.001) leading to lower biological risk in participants with longer education. Education-related differences in the BHS were detected early in life, and were not attributable to lifestyle and behavioural factors. We found a consistent contribution of the inflammatory and metabolic systems to the overall score throughout from early adulthood onwards, while the contribution of the other four systems seem to vary across age groups and gender. Our findings highlight the social-to-biological processes ultimately leading to health inequalities, and suggest that such disparities can already be detected in the 20-40 years old age group and cannot be fully explained by lifestyle and behavioural factors. This may define early adulthood social condition as a precursor to accelerated biological ageing and as an important target for public health policies.
Issue Date: 3-Apr-2019
Date of Acceptance: 13-Mar-2019
ISSN: 0143-005X
Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group
Journal / Book Title: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Copyright Statement: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ. This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:
Sponsor/Funder: Commission of the European Communities
Cancer Research UK
Funder's Grant Number: 633666
‘Mechanomics’ PRC project grant 22184
Keywords: biological ageing
social epidemiology
1117 Public Health and Health Services
1604 Human Geography
Publication Status: Published online
Online Publication Date: 2019-04-03
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Medicine
Epidemiology, Public Health and Primary Care

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