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European Journal of Ageing

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 405–414 | Cite as

Association of endemic goitre and exceptional longevity in Sardinia: evidence from an ecological study

  • Francesco ToluEmail author
  • Mario Palermo
  • Maria Pina Dore
  • Alessandra Errigo
  • Ana Canelada
  • Michel Poulain
  • Giovanni Mario Pes
Original Investigation

Abstract

This study aims to test the hypothesis that a high prevalence of endemic goitre, considered as a proxy measure for subclinically reduced thyroid function in the population, is geographically associated with exceptional longevity. Using historical data available for 377 Sardinian municipalities in the first half of the twentieth century, we performed an ecological study to investigate the geographic distribution of goitre and its spatial association with demographic indicators of population longevity. This analysis was conducted by using both conventional ordinary least square and geographically weighted regression models to take into account spatial autocorrelation and included other longevity-associated factors previously identified in Sardinia. The spatial analysis revealed that the goitre rate (p < 0.0001), the proportion of inhabitants involved in pastoralism (p = 0.016), the terrain inclination (p = 0.008), and the distance from the workplace as a proxy for physical activity (p = 0.023) were consistently associated with population longevity at an aggregated level in the 377 municipalities. Within the limits of an ecological study design, our findings support the existence of a significant association between high goitre prevalence and increased probability to survive into old age. The present study confirms previous results and is consistent with animal studies and epidemiological surveys in other long-lived areas known as Blue Zones. Potential mechanisms underlying this association need to be further investigated.

Keywords

Sardinia Extreme longevity Centenarians Endemic goitre Iodine deficiency 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Dr Marianna Tosi for help in retrieving demographic data.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10433_2019_510_MOESM1_ESM.doc (90 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 89 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesco Tolu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mario Palermo
    • 1
  • Maria Pina Dore
    • 2
  • Alessandra Errigo
    • 3
  • Ana Canelada
    • 4
  • Michel Poulain
    • 5
  • Giovanni Mario Pes
    • 2
    • 6
  1. 1.S.C. di EndocrinologiaMalattie della Nutrizione e del Ricambio - Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di SassariSassariItaly
  2. 2.Department of Medical, Surgical and Experimental MedicineUniversity of SassariSassariItaly
  3. 3.Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di SassariSassariItaly
  4. 4.Departamento de Medicina Preventiva y Salud Pública e Historia de la CienciaUniversidad de MàlagaMàlagaSpain
  5. 5.Estonian Institute for Population StudiesTallinn UniversityTallinnEstonia
  6. 6.Sardinia Blue Zone ObservatorySardiniaItaly

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