The rate of aging depends on iron concentration in the blood

Biological aging is characterized by the gradual degradation of the body and leads to fatal diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, or dementia. But why do people age at different rates? Scientists at the University of Edinburgh and the Max Planck Institute for Aging Biology believe that this is due to different levels of iron in the blood. They came to this conclusion when they analyzed the genetic information of over a million people. An article about it was published in Nature Communications.

In the course of the study, the specialists identified 10 genome sites associated with longevity, health preservation, and longevity. All of them were related to iron metabolism in the blood. Using a special statistical method, they were able to find out that various disorders in these genome loci associated with abnormal accumulation of iron in the blood were associated with accelerated aging, the development of various age-related diseases, such as Parkinson's disease or liver disease, and weakened immunity, also dependent on age.

This means that high iron levels in the blood reduce healthy life expectancy, the authors explain. In turn, maintaining this indicator will not only slow down but also possibly prevent the development of age-related diseases. 

This study can explain as well why the consumption of large amounts of red meat rich in iron leads to cardiovascular disease with age, experts say.

The results can help accelerate the development of special drugs that could mimic the genetic effects on iron metabolism. Such drugs will reduce the risk of developing age-related diseases, increase the chances of surviving to old age, and stay healthy at the same time.

July 17, 2020, 10:10 a.m.

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