UMMS Affiliation

Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Epidemiology | Gerontology | Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatry and Psychology | Psychology | Race and Ethnicity


OBJECTIVES: Black persons in the US are more likely to suffer from social inequality. Chronic stress caused by social inequality and racial discrimination results in weathering of the body that causes physiological dysregulation and biological age being higher than chronological age (accelerated aging). Depression has been linked to both racial discrimination and accelerated aging and accelerated aging has been demonstrated to be higher in Black than White persons, on average. However, we know little about accelerated aging across the life course in Black Americans.

METHODS: We used mixed effects growth models to measure biological age acceleration, measured with cardiometabolic markers, over a 20-year period in Black participants of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study (CARDIA) who were aged 27 - 42 years at analytic baseline. We included an interaction between depressive symptoms and time to determine whether risk of depression was associated with a faster rate of biological aging.

RESULTS: We found that the rate of biological aging increased over a 20-year span and that those at risk for depression had a faster rate of biological aging than those not at risk. We also found that various social factors were associated with biological age acceleration over time.

DISCUSSION: Given the known association between perceived racial discrimination and depressive symptoms, we provide a novel instance of the long-term effects of social inequality. Specifically, biological age acceleration, a marker of physiological dysregulation, is associated with time among Black persons and more strongly associated among those with depressive symptoms.


Biological age acceleration, CARDIA, Depression symptoms, High effort coping, Social support

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© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact

DOI of Published Version



Forrester SN, Whitfield KE, Kiefe CI, Thorpe RJ. Navigating Black Aging: The Biological Consequences of Stress and Depression. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2021 Dec 7:gbab224. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbab224. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34875069. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences

PubMed ID


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License