A recent roundworm study by University of Michigan scientists found that early-life stressors can act as a sort of aging inoculation.

“Experiencing stress early point in life may make you better able to fight stress you might encounter later in life,” commented Daphne Bazopoulou, Ph.D., the study’s first author. Bazopoulou added that it is possible that early events in life might also affect the predisposition for age-associated diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Scientists found that worms exposed early to oxidative stress tended to outlive those that were not. Oxidative stress occurs when cells produce more oxidants and free radicals than they are able to manage. The researchers’ published paper is titled “Developmental ROS individualizes organismal stress resistance later in life.”