Turns out the old “multiply by 7” rule to calculate a dog’s age in human yearsisn’t quite right.

Researchers from the University of California San Diego studied dog genomes tofigure out just how old our canine pets are compared to human years, and it’sa little more complicated than simple multiplication.

Under the well-known formula, a 1-year-old dog would be about 7 in humanyears. But now the researchers say a 1-year-old dog is more like a 30-year-oldhuman.

A 4-year-old dog is closer to a 52-year-old person, the researchers found. Butafter seven years, aging slows down in dogs.

“This makes sense when you think about it — after all, a nine-month-old dogcan have puppies, so we already knew that the 1:7 ratio wasn’t an accuratemeasure of age,” said lead researcher Trey Ideker, a professor at the UC SanDiego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center.

The researchers studied the genes of 104 Labrador retrievers, with an agerange of 16 years.

“I have a six-year-old dog — she still runs with me, but I’m now realizingthat she’s not as ‘young’ as I thought she was,” Ideker said in a pressrelease from the university.

The researchers published the new findings Thursday in the academic journalCell Systems.

“All mammals, whether dog, human, or other creature, pass through similar lifestages of embryogenesis, birth, infancy, youth, adolescence, maturity, andsenescence,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

They decided to explore how dogs age to learn more about how genes change aspeople (and Labradors) get older.

“More than just a parlor trick, the researchers say it may provide a usefultool for veterinarians, and for evaluating anti-aging interventions,” theuniversity said.

“There are a lot of anti-aging products out there these days — with wildlyvarying degrees of scientific support,” Ideker said.

“But how do you know if a product will truly extend your life without waiting40 years or so? What if you could instead measure your age-associatedmethylation patterns before, during and after the intervention to see if it’sdoing anything?” Ideker said.

Tina Wang, a former graduate student in Ideker’s lab at the time, is the leadauthor on the study. Wang, Ideker and the other researchers say they’vedeveloped a new “epigenetic clock,” which can help show the age of cells basedon chemical changes in their genes.

The changes are “much like wrinkles on a person’s face provide clues to theirage,” the university said.

Source: Miami Herald

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