Spitting to some, including yours truly, is disgusting. That said, we’ve all sent saliva flying from our mouths at one point or another for a variety of reasons. Some spit to display disdain, others spit when eating seeds of some sort, while many shun spitting altogether. New scientific research however shows that spit may hold a very important place in society, determining one’s true biological age.
Researchers at UCLA have discovered that DNA from one’s saliva changes as an individual ages. A building block of DNA undergoes something called “methylation,” altering its appearance over time which can be utilized to pinpoint a person’s age.
According to the research, spit can pinpoint age to within five years, making it by far the most accurate age test yet found. A finding of this sort has many real-world applications, most notably in identifying victims of crime by law enforcement.
UCLA researcher Dr. Eric Vilain:
“Our approach supplies one answer to the enduring quest for reliable markers of aging. With just a saliva sample, we can accurately predict a person’s age without knowing anything else about them. While genes partly shape how our body ages, environmental influences also can change our DNA as we age. Methylation patterns shift as we grow older and contribute to aging-related disease.”
Testing saliva from 34 sets of identical twins between the ages of 21 and 55, and 31 men and 29 women whose ages ranged from 18 to 70, using only two genes from the more than 3 billion comprising the human genome, the researchers were able to arrive at a fairly accurate five-year estimate for each person’s age.
While not perfect, the scientific breakthrough could result in solving more crime, disease prevention, and more.
What other areas could you see age determination by spit impacting?