Many different factors affect how fast we age. Genetics, environment, exercise, smoking, and other issues all matter. But what about iron levels? New research from the University of Edinburgh shows that blood iron levels could play an important role in the aging process.
Study researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that the gene markers controlling lifespan were linked to the levels of iron that people had in their blood. People who didn’t have enough iron lived shorter lives, but so did people who had too much iron in their blood. There appears to be a set area where iron is at an optimal level. If people deviate too far outside of that area, they could have shorter lifespans.
Naturally, iron level of the blood isn’t the only marker of how long someone will live. But according to this research, it appears to be an important one. The risk of health problems rise as the iron levels move too far out of the “optimal” window, meaning there could be ways to control those levels that have the potential to help people live longer. That could be a game-changer for health and longevity, though more study into the issue is still needed.
In addition to lifespan, the study looked at something called healthspan, which is the number of healthy years a person gets before disease and other issues start to cause significant problems.
For example, eating a lot of red meat has long been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Now, researchers believe that this could be caused by the extra iron in the blood of people who eat red meat frequently. This may very well become an area of study for future researchers, who can look more closely at this specific link and potentially make recommendations for dietary changes.
One of the issues researchers were most excited about in the Edinburgh study was the potential for medications that can adjust, control, or even mimic iron levels. If these types of medications can be created and work effectively, they could not only add years to many people’s lives but also more health and wellness to the number of years they do get. Both of those areas are important when considering human longevity because a longer life full of unhealthy years isn’t the goal.
For researchers who are interested in health and aging, examining studies like this one and considering where to go with the information has the potential to revolutionize what’s known about how the body processes nutrients and how minerals like iron really affect the quality of a person’s health over time. For people who want to live long, healthy lives, getting their iron levels checked and working to make sure it’s in a healthy range may be one of the best things they can really do for their health and longevity.
Copyright 2020, Wellness.com