Study: Longevity Isn’t Really About Our Genes

A new study adds to mounting evidence that our health and longevity are primarily a result of our environment and lifestyle.

The authors of the study, published in the Human Kinetics Journal, sought to analyze the relationship between physical activity and sedentary behavior, and their associations with mortality based on a score that evaluated genetic risk factors. The study involved 5,446 post-menopausal women 63 years of age or older. The women were put into three groups based on their genetic risk factors. These risk factors were measured by a “small selection of single-nucleotide polymorphisms” that are well-known to affect longevity.

Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are variations in a genetic sequence that affects one of the sequence’s basic building blocks—adenine, thymine, cytosine, or guanine. SNPs help predict an individual’s response to certain drugs, his or her susceptibility to environmental factors such as toxins, pesticides, or industrial waste, and his or her risk of developing certain diseases.

The study authors conclusively found that, regardless of their genetic risk factors, participants who had a higher rate of physical activity showed a lower risk of mortality, and those who had a higher level of sedentary behavior increased their chances of dying during an average follow-up period of more than six years.

Longevity, or the biology of aging, is an exciting field of study that is making important discoveries about the factors that affect how long we live.

Until very recently, life expectancy for humans was between 19 and 35 years, but over the past 150 years, significant improvements in sanitation and living conditions, agricultural practices, access to clean food and water, and medical treatment have dramatically increased lifespans. The average lifespan now is about 76 years of age (it has declined significantly in the United States since 2020 due to COVID-19). If we look at it this way, managing how we age is a relatively new concern.

Scientists have been studying people who live to be over 100 years old (called centenarians) and those who live to be over 110 (called supercentenarians) in order to understand which factors contribute to their long lives. Scientists have discovered that these individuals have little in common with each other in regard to their education, profession, or income, but they tend to share similar lifestyles: They don’t smoke; they are not obese or overweight; and they cope well with stress. Also, most centenarians and supercentenarians are women.


Source: Human Kinetics Journal