LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A UCLA study has found that Latinos age at a slower rate than other ethnic groups.

The findings were published Monday in the journal Genome Biology. Scientists hope the study will help them discover methods to slow the aging process for everyone.

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“Latinos live longer than Caucasians, despite experiencing higher rates of diabetes and other diseases. Scientists refer to this as the ‘Hispanic paradox,’” said Steve Horvath, the study’s lead author and a professor of human genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA . “Our study helps explain this by demonstrating that Latinos age more slowly at the molecular level.”

Latinos in the United States live an average of three years longer than Caucasians, with a life expectancy of 82 versus 79, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy Latino adults also have a 30-percent lower risk of death than other racial groups, according to a 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health.

Horvath and his colleagues analyzed 18 sets of data on DNA samples from nearly 6,000 people. Seven ethnicities were represented in the study: two African groups, African-Americans, Caucasians, East Asians, Latinos and an indigenous people called the Tsimane, who are genetically related to Latinos. The Tsimane live in Bolivia.

When the scientists examined the DNA from blood to determine the health of a person’s immune system, they were struck by differences linked to ethnicity. In particular, the scientists noticed that, after accounting for differences in cell composition, the blood of Latinos and the Tsimane aged more slowly than other groups.

“We suspect that Latinos’ slower aging rate helps neutralize their higher health risks, particularly those related to obesity and inflammation,” said Horvath, who is also a professor of biostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “Our findings strongly suggest that genetic or environmental factors linked to ethnicity may influence how quickly a person ages and how long they live.”

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The Tsimane aged even more slowly than Latinos. This reflects the group’s minimal signs of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity or clogged arteries, the researchers said.

“Despite frequent infections, the Tsimane people show very little evidence of the chronic diseases that commonly afflict modern society,” said coauthor Michael Gurven, a professor of anthropology at UC Santa Barbara. “Our findings provide an interesting molecular explanation for their robust health.”

In another finding, the researchers learned that men’s blood and brain tissue ages faster than women’s from the same ethnic groups. The discovery could explain why women have a higher life expectancy than men.

Horvath and his colleagues hope next to identify the molecular mechanism that protects Latinos from aging.

The research was supported by grants from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute on Aging.

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