Fighting premature wrinkles and unsure about how to get back your former youthful glow? Sadly, your troubled childhood may be to blame.
As if growing up under difficult conditions wasn't bad enough, a new study on cellular aging found childhood trauma can eventually make people look older. Children who overcame a lot of stress have shorter telomeres in their chromosomes, which can result in cells aging and dying more quickly, according to lead researcher Eli Puterman, director of the Fitness, Aging & Stress Lab at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.
"This doesn’t mean that every single person has short telomeres," he said. "It just means there’s an increased risk."
The study analyzed saliva of DNA samples from 4,598 people aged 50 and older who suffered drug or alcohol abuse by parents, physical abuse, trouble with the law, having to repeat a grade or financial hardships in the family. It found each stressful event during childhood increased the risk of shorter telomeres by as much as 11 percent.
"It was the childhood events that they suffered that were driving these effects," he said. "Events occur, and if they’re chronic and they’re repeated and they’re severe enough, over time they are going to wear down our physiological system to be able to cope with those stressors."
Roughly 679,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect in 2013, with children in the first year of their life facing the highest rate of victimization. Abuse included neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse.
So what to do if you want to look good but your childhood was more "Annie" than "Eloise"? As an adult who has hopefully moved on to living your best life, exercise and a healthy diet could help you feel like you are looking your best.
Or you could just accept that you are a mature, strong person who has lived a full life. Consider the alternative, as George Clooney once put it: "I'm kind of comfortable with getting older because it's better than the other option, which is being dead."