Reduced risks of common diseases through the inherited predisposition for higher muscle strength

An extended life expectancy and a reduced risk of common diseases are predicted by a genetic inclination towards greater muscle strength

Muscle strength, particularly hand grip strength, might reveal a person’s physiological reserves to fend off age-related illnesses and impairments as well as their capacity to manage them. Muscle loss associated with ageing is individualized and impacted by both genetics and lifestyle.

According to the study, those who are genetically predisposed to have stronger muscles are somewhat less likely to die young and develop major non-communicable diseases. In contrast to the period preceding the beginning of the disease, it did not, however, indicate improved survival following acute unfavourable health events.

It seems that a genetic predisposition for higher muscle strength reflects more on an individual’s intrinsic ability to resist and protect oneself against pathological changes that occur during aging than the ability to recover or completely bounce back after severe adversity.

Päivi Herranen

In addition to environmental and lifestyle influences, muscular strength is a multifactorial attribute that is impacted by a wide range of genetic variations, each of which has a relatively tiny impact on muscle strength. By creating a polygenic score for muscular strength, which combines the impacts of hundreds of thousands of genetic variations into a single score, the genetic propensity for muscle strength was determined in this study. Comparing individuals with a very high or low genetic propensity for muscular strength and looking into correlations between inherited muscle strength and other phenotypes in this example, prevalent diseases are made feasible by the polygenic score.

In this study, we were able to utilize both genetic information and health outcomes from over 340,000 Finnish men and women.

To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the association between a genetic predisposition for muscle strength and various diseases on this scale.

Päivi Herranen

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In addition to typical risk assessment, information regarding the genetic tendency for muscle strength may be utilised to identify people who are more vulnerable to prevalent illnesses and health challenges. However, more study on the subject is still required.

Based on these results, we cannot say how lifestyle factors, such as physical activity, modify an individual’s intrinsic ability to resist diseases and whether their impact on health differs among individuals due to genetics.

Päivi Herranen

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The study made use of the globally unique FinnGen dataset, which was assembled by Finnish biobanks working together. 342,443 Finns who have donated a biobank sample and given their consent made up the dataset. Of the participants, 53 percent were female and the ages ranged from 40 to 108 years. Based on Finland’s most common noncommunicable illnesses and major causes of mortality, the study’s diagnosis selection process was carried out. The most prevalent musculoskeletal and connective tissue illnesses falls and fractures, mental health and cognitive disorders, malignancies, cardiometabolic and pulmonary diseases, and overall and cardiovascular disease mortality were among the selected diagnoses.

Source: University of Jyväskylä – Current News

Journal Reference: Herranen, Päivi, et al. “Genome-Wide Polygenic Score for Muscle Strength Predicts Risk for Common Diseases and Lifespan: A Prospective Cohort Study.” The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, vol. 79, no. 4, 2024,

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