Several genes determine whether you become a centenarian or not, according to a new study published in the PLOS Genetics journal.
The science behind living a long, healthy life had been missing some important clues. It’s not all up to a healthy lifestyle, a carefree life or good luck. The secret to being a centenarian lies in one’s genes it seems. The new research found that four genes in particular are linked with a long life. Focusing on a population sample that made it into 100 years of age, the research yielded some fascinating results.
Four genes hold the key to being a centenarian. One of the genes is called ABO. ABO determines a person’s blood type. The second is called CDKN2B and it regulates cell division. The third gene, called APOE has been linked in previous research to the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. While the fourth gene, called SH2B3 is known to extend the lifespan of fruit flies.
Stuart Kim, who is a professor with the Department of Developmental Biology and Genetics at Stanford University explained that the spark for the research was the desire to understand how genes affect longevity and why some people are more successful than others from this perspective.
Previous research was conducted on the topic, but without much success. Looking at millions of variations of genomes might have obscured some associations critical to understanding the secret keys to longevity: genes. To not follow into the footsteps, the newly published research narrowed the search to exactly those genes which are known to affect someone’s risk of developing age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or heart disease. These spike the risk of mortality. Thus, variations of genomes would already decrease a person’s chances to become a centenarian.
As such, the researchers observed that several genes determine whether you become a centenarian or not. The first phase of the study included 800 people over 100 years of age, as well as 5,400 people over 90 years of age. In this population sample, the results yielded a total of eight genes associated with longevity. In a second phase of the study, four genes were confirmed in a sample of 1,000 people over 100 years of age.
The four genes – ABO, CDKN2B, SH2B3, APOE – were found to be common to centenarians, but not as common in people with a normal lifespan. The research team hopes that the insightful results obtained in this study will inspire others to further narrow down genes that help longevity.
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