Scientists at Stanford University have developed a blood test to measure inflammatory age (or iAge) which measures chronic inflammation related to conditions from heart disease to type2 diabetes, cancer and dementia. Their research is reported in the journal Nature Aging.
We are all familiar with ‘acute’ inflammation , the fever, swelling and pain that plays a role in the healing of wounds and fighting off infections. ‘Chronic’ inflammation by contrast is lingering low level inflammation that can, over time, damage our cells and organs and is linked to many diseases.
Levels of inflammation increase as we get older and the damage caused is often so gradual that we are unaware of it for years until we start to develop symptoms. Ageing cells release inflammation –fuelling molecules and factors such as smoking, obesity, pollution and stress can all contribute to inflammation.
The new blood test is several years away from widespread use but it is envisaged that it will eventually be done annually along side other regular health checks so that those with a high iAge could than try to lower their levels of inflammation through diet and exercise, both of which can dampen inflammation. It could also be that new iAge lowering medicines are developed.