Randy Newman satirically sang: "Short people got no reason to live." According to new research, (some) short people may have the last laugh. It turns out that a particular mutation that decreases the activity of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), results in short stature, but longer life. U.S. News reports:
"We found that people of a hundred years old have mutations in a gene that is related to the growth hormone pathway," said lead researcher Dr. Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. "We think this is important, because that's what now happens in nature. The pony lives longer than the horse, the small dog lives longer than a large dog. Apparently, it's true for humans also."
Interestingly, this particular mutation has been found mostly among women, he added.
It might be possible, given these findings, to develop drugs that can prevent aging and age-related disease, Barzilai noted. "There are drugs being developed to decrease growth hormone in patients with tumors, because sometimes cancer is dependent on growth hormones," he said. "Maybe we can adopt the strategy to slow aging."
Tinkering with similar hormonal pathways in other organisms has also resulted in significantly lengthened lives.
For the published study go to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences here.
Disclosure: Some of my best friends are short. No, really.