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.
Association of endemic goitre and exceptional longevity in Sardinia: evidence from an ecological study / Tolu, Francesco; Palermo, Mario; Dore, Maria Pina; Errigo, Alessandra; Canelada, Ana; Poulain, Michel; Pes, Giovanni Mario. - In: EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF AGEING. - ISSN 1613-9372. - 16:4(2019), pp. 405-414. [10.1007/s10433-019-00510-4]