Does a High Metabolism Make You Age Faster?

Runners in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park

A new study accepted for publication in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism claims that people with higher metabolic rates age faster and die younger than people without them, Science Daily reports.

“We found that higher endogenous metabolic rate, that is how much energy the body uses for normal body functions, is a risk factor for earlier mortality,” said the study’s lead author, Reiner Jumphertz, according to Science Daily. This conclusion only applies to resting metabolic rate, not to energy expended during exercise.

Researchers evaluated 652 healthy Pima Indian volunteers. They tested 24-hour energy expenditure (energy expended at rest, as determined in a respiratory chamber) in 508 volunteers and resting metabolic rate in 384 of the volunteers over a period of 11 to 15 years. During the study period, 27 participants died of natural causes. Researchers linked higher energy expenditure with an increase in risk for natural morality.

The findings may explain, Jumphertz said, why “reductions in metabolic rate, for instance via low calorie diets” may benefit human health.

Before you start jumping around thrilled that you will live longer than your naturally skinny friends who can eat anything because they have high metabolisms, consider this: a study highlighted in Science Daily in 2009 found exactly the opposite, although the test subjects were mice.

The study, published in 2009 in the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, found that mice with high metabolisms live just as long as those with slower metabolisms.

I seems to me like the study with Pima Indian volunteers was of such small scope–both numerically and ethnically–that it hardly can be deemed conclusive. So party on, those of you who feel lucky to have high metabolisms. It might be a while before scientists decide your metabolism is or isn’t a blessing.

What do you think?

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