For the first time, scientists have discovered common genetic factors that influence muscle strength. The discovery offers new insights into the biology of muscle strength and its role in age-related conditions such as bone frailty.
The study, led by researchers at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, is published in the journal Nature Communications.
Muscle strength, as measured by hand grip strength, is widely used as a clinical indicator of muscular fitness. It is also predictive of a number of health outcomes in older people.
The genetic analysis [of 140,000 people taking part in the UK Biobank project and a further 50,000 people in Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands and the U.K.] identified that muscle strength is significantly linked to 16 locations on the human genome.
The team then looked for clues that might show whether or not low muscle strength actually causes the health problems associated with it. They found no evidence that reduced muscle strength directly raises risk of premature death or cardiovascular disease. However, they did find evidence that higher muscle strength reduces risk of bone fracture.
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