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Iron levels in the blood could be key to slowing down ageing, new major genetic study finds
Using genetic data from over a million people, researchers have found that just ten regions of the genome, responsible for metabolizing iron in the blood, could be the key to longer, healthier lives.
The international ageing study carried out by scientists from the University of Edinburgh and the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Germany focused on three measures of ageing: lifespan, years of life lived disease-free or healthspan, and the nature of being extremely long-lived (longevity).
The researchers found that maintaining healthy levels of iron in the blood, a Goldilocks ‘sweet spot’ of not too much and not too little, could be a key to a longer, healthier life. Each extreme of blood iron levels is correlated with conditions such as Parkinson's and liver disease.
The dataset contained the equivalent of 1.75 million lifespans or more than 60,000 extremely long-lived people, and genes linked to iron metabolism were overrepresented in analysis of all the three measures of ageing.