A year of Lifepath

On May 17-18th, Lifepath partners gathered in Paris for the project second annual meeting, to assess and present what has been accomplished during the first year of research, and to discuss the future perspectives. The participants reviewed and discussed their results on the exploration of the impact of low socio-economic status on ageing and mortality, and of the related intermediate molecular events such as functional changes in DNA and metabolism.

A series of video interview have been taken during the meeting to present some of the main results discussed in Paris, as described by the authors:

Low socio-economic status is among the most relevant health risk factor (Silvia Stringhini, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Lausanne)
Socio-economic conditions are often ignored as a major determinant of health but studies led by Silvia Stringhini, from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Lausanne, show that they are the third risk factor – after smoking and sedentary lifestyle – to determine people’s mortality. Socio-economic status should thus be considered as a main target for health prevention policies.

Children’s height may be influenced by social and economic conditions (Cathal McCrory, Trinity College, Dublin)
Children’s height is mainly determined by genetic factors, but the environment in which we are born and grow up can play an important role too. Knowing that height is correlated with health in later life, Lifepath partners from the Trinity College in Dublin wondered if there are differences in children’s height related to their socio-economic background.

How education can influence the length and quality of life (Johan Mackenbach, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center, Rotterdam)
Is there a relationship between the level of school education and the length and quality of life? The answer is yes, according to studies carried out by Johan Mackenbach and his colleages at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam. People with a higher level of education seem to live longer and to experience a healthier ageing process, than those with a lower level of education.

Inflammation could mediate socio-economic effects on health (Cyrille Delpierre, Universite Paul Sabatier Toulouse III, Toulouse)
Everyday life can bring several potential source of stress, and this is particularly true in case of social and economic distress. Socio-economic circumstances can  interact with our organisms and trigger inflammatory responses against stress. However, a chronic exposure to stressful conditions, may lead to several kinds of diseases, thus decreasing the quality of our life in later years.

Data collection and integration (Silvia Polidoro, Hugef Foundation, Turin)
Did the impact of the economic crisis have a direct impact on our body? This is the question at the core of Hugef Foundation studies within Lifepath. Experts from the Foundation will analyse blood samples from large population groups in order to see if changes in DNA methylation – an epigenetic marker – has occurred following the onset of the recent crisis. The Foundation will also take care of gathering and harmonizing data from different studies within the project, to make them available for further comparison.

Publication date: 
Tuesday, August 2, 2016