Everyone wants to live a long and healthy life. It is a bit of a goal that everyone has or should have. And we do our best – we work out, we get frequent check-ups, we eat healthy, but still, a big secret to longevity is our genes. Now scientists from the University of Edinburgh are saying that life expectancy could be predicted by looking at the person’s DNA.
A lot of things go into life expectancy. You should live longer if you do not have harmful habits and stay physically active. Avoiding stress is also a good measure to take in order to ensure you live long and happy life. However, a lot of the secrets to longevity are in your genes. Scientists analysed the combined effect of genetic variations that influence lifespan to produce a scoring system. The way they designed this system, people from the top 10 % of the population might expect to live up to five years longer than those who score in the lowest 10 %.
This study had a huge data pool, including genetic data from more than half a million people alongside records of their parents’ lifespan. Scientists managed to pinpoint 12 areas of the human genome that have a significant impact on lifespan. Interestingly, these DNA sites have been previously linked to fatal illnesses, including heart disease and smoking-related conditions. In general, those genes were mostly related to the brain and the heart, but genes related to cancers that are not smoking-related did not show up in this study. This could mean that they are caused largely by environmental factors and behaviour.
Scientists were hoping to find genes related to ageing, but their effects were probably too small to be detected in this study. However, researchers did show that DNA does allow predicting if the person’s lifespan is going to be longer or shorter than average. Dr Peter Joshi, one of the scientists behind the study, said: “If we take 100 people at birth, or later, and use our lifespan score to divide them into ten groups, the top group will live five years longer than the bottom on average”. Predicting the possible duration of life could help people making lifestyle decisions that could counteract genetic factors.
Of course, genes are significant factor influencing your lifespan. However, they are not the only ones and your lifestyle choices are probably as important. Take the action today, start working out and eating healthier – effects are going to be visible in the future and you’ll be thankful for yourself for making that choice.
Source: University of Edinburgh