The key to an inherited deficiency that predisposes some people to emphysema and other lung conditions could lie in their Viking ancestry, according to a paper published in Nature: Scientific Reports.
Archaeological excavations of Viking latrine pits in Denmark have revealed that these populations suffered massive worm infestations. The way that their genes developed to protect their vital organs from disease caused by worms has become the inherited trait which can now lead to lung disease in smokers.
Deficiency of alpha-1-antitrypsin (A1AT), which is a risk factor for developing COPD, is genetically determined and is due to deviants of A1AT that are surprisingly common, particularly in Scandinavia, where they evolved in Viking populations more than two thousand years ago.
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