New research suggests genetics influences resilience to the cold

Genetics

New research shared by The Conversation Trust has found that one in five people lack a muscle protein called alpha-actini-3. Its absence is thought to make people more resilient to cold temperatures.

The study found that people who were alpha-actinin-3 deficient could maintain a higher core temperature and shiver less when exposed to the cold compared to those without.

42 men aged 18 to 40 years from Lithuania were exposed to 14-degree water. 30% of participants with the alpha-actinin-3 protein reached the full 120 minutes of exposure, compared to 69% of those without the protein.

It is thought the absence of the alpha-actinin-3 protein became more common as modern humans migrated out of Africa and into the colder climates of Europe and Asia.

The reasons for this increase have remained unknown until now.

01 Cover June 21

Issue 50 June 2021

  • The Spell of the Sea: Why does the ocean hold such an allure?
  • How can we turn the tide and make outdoor swimming more accessible for all?
  • Smash you mile PB with a training plan from triple Olympian Keri-anne Payne
  • Adventure swimming: How to get started in swimcamping
  • Will swimming outdoors make my Raynaud's worse?

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