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Renting Is Cutting Lives Short

It May Be Worse Than Smoking

Renting Is Cutting Lives Short

By Sean Zucker –

The fact that smoking is bad for health and longevity isn’t exactly groundbreaking information. Neither are the negative impacts of obesity for that matter. However, new research now suggests that there is one other nasty habit with even greater drawbacks in terms of healthy aging. Unfortunately, renting is incredibly common and not generally something a lot of people can control.

A recent study by the Australian Centre for Housing Research at the University of Adelaide claimed that renting can age individuals faster than either smoking or obesity. The researchers used data on housing and aging biomarkers from the long-running UK Household Longitudinal Study to determine the connection between epigenetic aging and housing circumstances.

The British longitudinal study is a goldmine for researchers as it collects information on gender, nationality, education level, wealth, diet, stress levels, body mass index and smoking habits. The university’s team developed its conclusions after analyzing data from the study on about 40,000 British households. The Australian researchers also collected blood samples from 1,500 volunteers outside of this program.

Ultimately, the data showed that renters aged two and a half weeks faster for every year they rented compared to those who owned their homes. This was twice the biological aging rate associated with obesity and slightly higher than that of smokers, the researchers noted. They pointed to the stress of struggling to pay rent and dealing with the hassles of moving, along with the social stigma of renting as possible reasons for the long-term decline.

These are lofty claims considering there are few things more harmful than smoking and obesity. Smoking can take years off of a person’s life by raising their risk of a slew of serious conditions such as heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes and several cancers, per The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC adds that obesity similarly offers increased chances of cardiovascular disease, many cancers and diabetes, not to mention lowered mental health and overall quality of life.

These findings come against a backdrop of a historically difficult time in America for first-time homebuyers. Real estate data provider ATTOM underscored the point recently when it declared “that median-priced single-family homes and condos” were less affordable in the third quarter of 2023 compared to historical averages in 99 percent of the nation’s counties the group could analyze.

“The latest trend continues a two-year pattern of home ownership getting more and more difficult for average U.S. wage earners,” ATTOM noted in releasing its Home Affordability Report.

“The dynamics influencing the U.S. housing market appear to continuously work against everyday Americans, potentially to the point where they could start to have a significant impact on home prices,” ATTOM’s Chief Executive Officer Rob Barber reported.

The affordability report coupled with the university’s findings suggest that American renters are trending towards a potentially bleak future. “Our results suggest that challenging housing circumstances negatively affect health through faster biological aging,” the study concluded,

The Australians, fortunately, did offer a glimmer of hope. “…biological aging is reversible, highlighting the significant potential for housing policy changes to improve health,” they suggested.





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