We know that the genes we inherit from our parents play an important role in the emergence of diseases and that aging predisposes us to more illnesses. However, researchers at the University of Oxford last week released an auspicious news for the elderly: the association of a person’s genetic load to the risk of developing a disease decreases in old age. O study was published on the 26th of August in the magazine “PLOS Genetics”.
Scientists used data from 500,000 individuals from the UK Biobank in the United Kingdom to assess how their genetics influenced the development of 24 diseases. They found that the risk was greater in youth and decreased in the case of illnesses such as hypertension, skin cancer and hypothyroidism. Although the reasons for this change in pattern are still unclear, they believe that interaction with the environment – which includes a healthy lifestyle – could be the key to the discovery.
Elderly woman exercises in the square: physical activity is associated with longevity — Photo: Mariza Tavares
Taking the hint about lifestyle, another study, with more than 30,000 patients with coronary problems, showed that embracing physical activity, even if belatedly, can be almost as beneficial as having the habit of exercising. The research, led by physician Nathalia Gonzalez, a doctoral student at the University of Bern, was presented on the 24th at the congress of the European Society of Cardiology.
A total of 33,576 people with coronary artery disease who had a mean age of 62.5 years were evaluated, and 34% were women. All belonged to nine groups that had been monitored and answered questionnaires that classified their level of physical activity. Based on this information, they were divided into four categories: inactive over time; active over time; with increased activity over time; and decreased activity over time.
The researchers concluded that the overall risk of death was 50% lower for active people; 45% lower for sedentary people who had started exercising; and 20% lower for those who had abandoned physical activity in recent years. The risk of death from coronary heart disease was 51% lower for those who were active and 27% for those who had increased physical activity. There was no statistical difference for the other two groups, inactive. For the doctor, the results show that an active lifestyle is clearly associated with longevity: “in addition, patients with coronary artery disease can obtain great benefits if they exercise at a mature stage, surpassing the previous years of sedentary lifestyle. On the other hand, these benefits can be lost if the activity is not maintained”.