To prevent onset of age-related diseases and physical and cognitive decline, interventions to slow human aging and extend health span must eventually be applied to people while they are still young and healthy. Yet most human aging research examines older adults, many with chronic disease, and little is known about aging in healthy young humans.Method:
This article explains how this knowledge gap is a barrier to extending health span and puts forward the case that geroscience should invest in researching the pace of aging in young adults. As one illustrative example, we describe an initial effort to study the pace of aging in a young-adult birth cohort by using repeated waves of biomarkers collected across the third and fourth decades to quantify the pace of coordinated physiological deterioration across multiple organ systems (eg, pulmonary, periodontal, cardiovascular, renal, hepatic, metabolic, and immune function).Results:
Findings provided proof of principle that it is possible to quantify individual variation in the pace of aging in young adults still free of age-related diseases.Conclusions:
This article articulates research needs to improve longitudinal measurement of the pace of aging in young people, to pinpoint factors that slow or speed the pace of aging, to compare pace of aging against genomic clocks, to explain slow-aging young adults, and to apply pace of aging in preventive clinical trials of antiaging therapies. This article puts forward a research agenda to fill the knowledge gap concerning lifelong causes of aging.