New research has shed light on the detrimental effects of renting on biological aging, emphasizing the need for secure and affordable housing. The study conducted by UK and Australian researchers reveals that renting induces significant stress, resulting in faster biological aging.
Renting is often considered a temporary solution, but its impact on biological aging is substantial. The study, published in The British Medical Journal’s Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, found that renting leads to faster biological aging, even more so than unemployment and former smoking. Repeated difficulties in paying rent and exposure to environmental hazards in rental properties contribute to this accelerated aging.
Amy Clair, a researcher at the Australian Centre for Housing Research and the study’s lead researcher, emphasized the importance of housing to overall health. She stated, “The findings demonstrate the importance of housing to health and the importance of having a secure and affordable place to live.”
Biological aging refers to how quickly our cells age, which can differ from our chronological age. The research used U.K. Household Longitudinal Study data, including health information and blood samples from approximately 1,500 participants. Blood samples provided information on aging-related biomarkers.
Surprisingly, the study revealed an exception – those whose rent was subsidized by the government did not experience accelerated biological aging compared to homeowners. This finding underlines the role of housing policy in mitigating the negative health effects of renting.
The study had some limitations, including the collection of biological aging data from only white European individuals. Additionally, housing conditions can affect various aspects of health beyond biological aging, and prior housing conditions may continue to impact individuals even after they move.
The authors of the study suggested that providing more substantial support with housing costs and limiting rent increases could protect people from the health consequences of housing arrears. They also pointed out that since biological aging is reversible, changes in housing policy can improve overall health.
The stressors associated with renting mentioned in the study include lack of heating, location, overcrowding, stigma, and the hassles of moving. Furthermore, rent levels in the U.S. reached a record high last year, making affordable housing an increasingly challenging issue for many. According to Zillow’s 2022 report on renting, the typical market rate rent in the U.S. accounted for nearly 60% of the annual median household income.
In essence, this research highlights the need for housing policies to ensure secure and affordable living conditions to mitigate the stress and health risks of renting. Understanding the impact of housing on biological aging underscores the importance of addressing this issue for the well-being of individuals and communities.