Genes Reveal Which Lifestyle Choices Lengthen Your Life

Researchers are using the power of big data along with the newest innovations in genetic testing to draw a roadmap to greater longevity. According to a study published in Nature Communications, genetic research indicates education may contribute to a longer life, while, unsurprisingly, being overweight and smoking may shave years off. For the study, researchers looked at lifespan information from 606,059 parents of participants whose genomes were available for analysis. Through this process, they validated several genes previously connected to longevity and identified two new genes correlated with longevity. They were also able to find relationships between life expectancy and gene patterns previously found to be influenced by specific lifestyle choices. These findings suggest that:

  • Quitting smoking, getting more education, being open to new experiences, and having a higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol may be genetically correlated with a longer lifespan.
  • Smoking, insulin resistance, and body fat may be correlated with a shorter lifespan.

Researchers were also able to estimate how much certain lifestyle choices affected lifespan in the study parent group, specifically:

  • A lifetime of smoking a pack a day reduced lifespan by 6.8 years.
  • Every excess unit of BMI reduced lifespan by seven months.
  • Every additional year of schooling increased lifespan by eleven months.

This study adds to research suggesting that our habits may affect lifespan by altering genetic patterns. While the results may come as no surprise, they still serve as a very concrete reminder that we have some control over how long we live. So, read up on some new ways to make good lifestyle choices, like getting regular exercise and quitting smoking, to help ensure extra years.

Source: Nature Communications

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