In a recent publication in the journal CHEST, researchers aimed to investigate the correlation between unhealthy lifestyle factors and the risk of developing IPF. The researchers also sought to ascertain the degree to which genetic susceptibility to IPF modified the impact of unhealthy lifestyle factors on the risk of developing IPF.

The authors wrote, "Lifestyle is thought to be an important contributor of age-related chronic disease, but the association between lifestyle and the risk of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) remains unknown. Also, the extent to which genetic susceptibility modifies the effects of lifestyle on IPF remains unclear."

The prospective cohort study involved data from 407,615 participants from the UK Biobank. The average age of study participants was 56.17 years, and 53.21% were females.

The researchers relied on self-reported questionnaires and devised a lifestyle score and a polygenic risk score (PRS) for each participant separately. The lifestyle score was based on data regarding history of smoking and smoking habits, use of alcohol, exercise habits, television habits, sleep, and dietary habits, including intake of red meat, oily fish, fruits, and vegetables.

Based on corresponding scores, participants were then grouped into three lifestyle categories of unhealthy lifestyle, intermediate lifestyle, and favorable lifestyle, and three genetic risk categories. Additionally, to evaluate the association of lifestyle and genetic risk with the risk of incident IPF, researchers utilized Cox models.

Overall, the researchers discovered 1,248 incident cases of IPF that occurred over an average follow-up period of 12 years. Among those with IPF, participants were more likely to be Caucasian Europeans, males, and older individuals, with a higher incidence of pre-existing comorbidities and lower educational background. Additionally, those with IPF were more prone to have unfavorable lifestyle factors, such as unhealthy dietary habits, excessive alcohol consumed over time, history of smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle.

The results revealed that when comparing favorable lifestyle factors as the reference group, intermediate lifestyle (hazard ratio [HR] 1.384; 95% CI, 1.218-1.574) and unfavorable lifestyle (HR 2.271; 95% CI, 1.852-2.785) were significantly correlated with an augmented risk of developing IPF.

With regard to the combined effect of lifestyle and PRS, participants with unfavorable lifestyle factors  and high genetic risk had the highest risk of IPF (HR 7.796; 95% CI, 5.482-11.086) compared with those with favorable lifestyle and low genetic risk. Moreover, around 32.7% (11.3%, 54.1%) of IPF risk could be accredited to the interaction of an unfavorable lifestyle and high genetic risk.

The authors noted that after adjusting for variables such as level of education, ethnicity, body mass index, employment status, hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia, the adjusted risk for incident IPF was 127.1% (95% CI, 85.2%-178.5%) greater in participants with unfavorable lifestyle compared with those with favorable lifestyle, and that the risk for incident IPF was 38.4% higher (95% CI, 21.8%-57.4%) among those with intermediate lifestyle versus favorable lifestyle. They also noted that the additional adjustment for air pollutants did not affect the risk calculations.

In conclusion, the authors wrote, "In a nationally representative sample from the UK Biobank, we found that unfavorable lifestyle and high genetic risk were pronouncedly associated with an increased risk of IPF events. At the same time, our study added novel evidence that the association between lifestyle and the risk of incident IPF could be strengthened by the genetic susceptibility to IPF. Therefore, it is necessary to inform and encourage citizens to adhere to a healthy lifestyle, especially for those at high genetic risk."

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.

 « Click here to return to Respiratory Update.