Rare mutations protect against cancer and heart disease

Researchers at the University of Southern California and the University of San Francisco have discovered that a rare mutation that causes growth hormone deficiency in humans may also protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The journal Med points out that the mutations the researchers studied cause a condition known as growth hormone receptor deficiency (GHRD), also known as Laron syndrome. Growth hormone is a peptide hormone produced by the anterior pituitary gland, a gland located in the brain. This hormone stimulates growth, development of internal organs in children and adolescents. In adults, it maintains the normal ratio of muscle and fat mass, regulates metabolism and blood sugar levels, and strengthens bone tissue.

A lack of growth hormone receptors prevents the body from using growth hormone. This defect manifests as an insensitivity of peripheral tissues to the action of growth hormone, and mutation carriers therefore fail to grow in height as they age. For this reason, this syndrome is called a strange type of dwarfism.

Researchers have found that Laron syndrome increases the risk of obesity, but reduces the risk of developing many age-related diseases, including cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Laboratory studies conducted in mice have shown that this mutation increases life expectancy by 40 percent and protects against cardiovascular disease, and scientists believe that such protective effects may be replicated in humans. I think there is a possibility that it will appear.

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