A British research team made this discovery after studying the DNA of more than 12,000 people and identifying one stretch of DNA that clearly sped up ageing, the journal Nature Genetics reports.
Up to 7 per cent of the population has two copies of it, meaning they look up to eight years older than people of the same age. Another 38 per cent has one copy, ageing them by three to four years.
A fortunate 55 per cent do not have it at all. Instead, they have two copies of the "Peter Pan" gene, meaning they remain youthful-looking for longer.
The key to the study was the length of telomeres – tiny biological clocks that cap the ends of chromosomes. They get shorter with time, until eventually the cells die.
Researchers from the University of Leicester and King's College London found that people with the "Peter Pan" DNA had longer telomeres, meaning their biological clocks ticked more slowly.So now we will all be waiting for tests to be available so we can check this out and then of course we will want ways of reversing this process. On the other hand we could just grow old gracefully!