A new study published in the journal Ageing has found a potential reason why men from the poorer regions of Glasgow, Scotland, are dying an average of almost 30 years sooner than their counterparts in less poverty stricken areas.

The researchers found that the men in the poorer areas tended to eat more red meats that contain additives, while also consuming fewer fruits and vegetables. This is significant as red meats contain large amounts of phosphate and the consumption of fruits and vegetables help to offset its effects.

High levels of phosphate can increase the body’s biological ageing process in comparison to its temporal age by degrading the telomeres on the tips of our chromosomes. Telomeres are important because they act as caps on the end of our DNA, preventing them from fraying and sticking to each other.

Every time a cell divides the telomeres on its chromosomes get shorter, when they are finally gone the cell is incapable of continuing to divide. This process is associated with what we know as natural ageing, while also causing the development of Alzheimer’s and Cancer.

The researchers found that this process was disproportionately affecting men in poverty because they were only able to buy meat that contained additives, Which increases the absorption of phosphate from around 60% to nearly 100%.

The study only found a link between red meats with additives and increased ageing in men and not in women.