Climbers scaling the world's highest peaks have six times as much enzymes in their blood to protect them from the dangers resulting from a lack of oxygen, compared with those with no mountain climbing experience.
The finding was made by Gota Miura, 42, son of professional skier Yuichiro Miura, 79, who climbed Mount Everest twice after turning 70, and other researchers at Juntendo University and other organizations. The report was carried in a U.S. medical journal.
It is known that if people scale a mountain as high as 8,000 meters where the oxygen level is lower, more active oxygen tends to be created in their blood.
Active oxygen is known to contribute to aging and bodily strain.
The research involved the blood analysis of a group of 17 subjects, including Yuichiro Miura and other mountaineers as well as those without climbing experience.
The research discovered that experienced alpinists have six times the levels of HO-1, an enzyme that is known to stem damage to their bodies when the air is thin, than those without a background in mountain climbing.
Researchers also found that genes prompting the creation of this kind of enzyme became active when inexperienced climbers go through altitude training in a room with low levels of oxygen.
"People may benefit from the state of hypoxia as enzymes to fight aging increases," said Gota Miura, a member of the Japanese freestyle mogul team at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics.
Miura is working on research aimed at helping his father reach the summit of Mount Everest at 80.
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