Forget all the innovations in aesthetic medicine. Looking younger than your age could depend on how you occupy your accommodation. The idea may seem preposterous, but it nevertheless comes from a very serious scientific study. Renting one’s home would be associated with faster “biological aging”, compared to owning it, leading even more to inequalities.
Becoming a homeowner is not easy, and even less accessible to the greatest number of people, especially in uncertain times when the conditions of access to real estate credit are intended to be more restrictive, and where rates continue to rise. However, this would make it possible to age more slowly, and to appear younger than your age, reveals a study carried out by researchers from the University of Essex, in the United Kingdom, and the University of Adelaide, in Australia. This is not a question of urging anyone to become an owner, but of highlighting the influence of rental, potentially a source of stress and difficult living conditions, on physical and mental health.
Tenants’ health undermined
For the purposes of their work, the researchers based themselves on epigenetic information, in other words the study of certain changes (behaviors, environmental factors) in the activity of genes, as well as on data from social surveys and signs of biological aging, observed through the analysis of blood samples, from more than 1,400 adults living in the United Kingdom. Other data examined include housing tenure, type of building, potential government assistance to tenants, presence of central heating, location in urban or rural area, delays in payment of rent, or rental fees.
Published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, this research showed that renting in the private park was associated with “faster biological aging“, which results in an accumulation of cellular and molecular damage. The conclusions go even further: “The impact of renting in the private sector, as opposed to owning outright (without a mortgage), was almost double that of unemployment compared to having a job. It was also 50% more important than having been a former smoker versus never having smoked.“, we can read in a press release.
The importance of housing policy
The study specifies that repeated late payments, as well as exposure to pollution or environmental problems, are also the cause of faster biological aging. But the researchers explain that these harmful effects on health are not irreversible, provided that the main stakeholders see their rental conditions improve or their tenure change. Which leads researchers to highlight “the role of housing policy in improving health”.
“What it means to be a tenant of private accommodation is not set in stone but depends on political decisions which, until now, have prioritized landlords and investors over tenants“, underline the authors of the study. And to conclude: “Policies aimed at reducing the stress and uncertainty associated with private renting, such as ending evictions (…), limiting rent increases and improving (some) conditions (…) could contribute to some extent. measure to reduce the negative impacts of rental“. Conclusions here related to housing policies in the UK, but which could be applicable in other countries.
Please note, however, that this observational study has certain limitations, if only because it does not make it possible to establish the exact cause of this association between housing tenure and biological aging. Furthermore, some data only came from white and European respondents.