New large-scale research has found evidence that iron levels in the blood can have an impact on life expectancy.
It is always important that life expectancy studies be large-scale. The new study is truly impressive in this regard and includes the genetic information of more than a million people from three public databases. In addition, the study focused on three key measures of aging – life expectancy, disease-free years, and extremely old age, or longevity.
The analysis found that these key measures of genome were linked to 10 key regions of the genome, as well as a set of genes related to the body’s metabolism of iron.
Simply put, large amounts of iron in the blood were associated with an increased risk of premature death.
“It is an amazing discovery because it indicates that high levels of iron in the blood reduce our years of healthy living; “Controlling this level can protect us from age-related threats,” said Paul Timers, a data analyst at the University of Edinburgh.
According to him, the group suspects that their findings on iron metabolism may also explain why the consumption of large amounts of iron-rich red meat is associated with age-related problems, such as heart disease.
It is true that correlation does not necessarily mean a causal relationship, but in order to reduce the error and try to capture this connection in the data, the researchers used a statistical method called Mendeleev randomization.
As the researchers note, it is estimated that genetics has an approximately 10 percent impact on life expectancy and the number of years of healthy living; Consequently, it is difficult to identify genes that are involved in other factors (e.g., smoking and drinking). Therefore, one of the advantages of the new study is its sheer size and scale.
Of the genetic markers discovered by researchers, five were not yet considered significant at the genome scale level. However, it has been observed in the past that some of them, including APOE and FOXO3, play an important role in human aging and health.
“With the well-known association of APOE and FOXO3 with age-related diseases and aging, it is clear that we have to some extent achieved the aging process in humans,” the researchers wrote.
While research into this link between iron and metabolism is still in its infancy, new research is a step in the right direction, as it is possible to develop iron-lowering drugs that could extend our lifespan by several years.
In addition to genetics, iron in the blood is mainly controlled by diet and various studies have shown that this figure is associated with several age-related diseases, including Parkinson’s and liver disease. In addition, in the elderly it also affects the body’s ability to fight infection.
This latest study can be freely added to the growing list of evidence that a large amount of iron in the blood, ie its inability to break down properly, can affect a person’s life expectancy as well as health in old age.
“Our ultimate goal is to find out how aging is regulated and to find ways to enhance health in old age,” said Joris Dylan, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Biology of Aging in Germany.
According to him, these 10 regions found in the genome, which are related to life expectancy and years of healthy living, are exciting candidates for further research.