Why does the body age slowly in some people and not in others? This is the question that researchers from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) and the Max-Planck Institute for the Biology of Aging (Germany) wanted to answer, in a study published in the journal Nature Communications. What they discovered is surprising: there is a link between the level of iron in the blood and the length of life. People with normal iron levels would therefore have a longer life expectancy.
Control your iron level to live longer
To reach this conclusion, scientists analyzed the public genetic data of more than a million people. They looked at three measures related to biological aging: lifespan, years of disease-free life and length of life at a very advanced age.
They found that all iron-related genes were over-represented in their analysis of these three aging-related measures. They therefore concluded that maintaining healthy iron levels in the blood could be a key to aging better and living longer.
Iron levels depend on various factors, including diet, but also age and state of health. Certain pathologies, such as Parkinson’s disease or liver disease can thus have consequences on iron levels.
Soon a drug to age better?
These findings, which suggest that high iron levels limit life expectancy, have yet to be confirmed, but they still hold promise. And for good reason: they could accelerate the development of drugs that can reduce this rate and thus have an impact on life expectancy.
“We are very excited about these results because they strongly suggest that high levels of iron in our blood reduce our healthy years of life, and that keeping these levels under control could prevent age-related damage.”, concluded Dr. Paul Timmers, co-author of the study.
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