How Long You Live Does Not Depend On How Long Your Grandmother Lived

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How Long You Live Does Not Depend On How Long Your Grandmother Lived
How Long You Live Does Not Depend On How Long Your Grandmother Lived

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How long you live does not depend on how long your grandmother lived

If you think you will live long because your grandmother lived long, you are not entirely right. Genetic factors have a relatively small impact on life expectancy, according to a new study of over 400 million people. According to the research, longevity is mainly determined by lifestyle, while DNA affects only 10%.

How long you live does not depend on how long your grandmother lived
How long you live does not depend on how long your grandmother lived

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If you think you will live long because your grandmother lived long, you are not entirely right. Genetics has a relatively small impact on life expectancy, according to a new study that has reached over 400 million people. Longevity is largely determined by lifestyle, according to a study published in the journal Genetics, while DNA affects only 10% of it.

“We know that people who research their family history are primarily interested in longevity issues,” says Cathy Ball, co-author of the study and senior fellow at Ancestry, which runs a family history website.

Genetic differences explain only 15-30% of longevity, previous studies have shown. However, factors not related to genetics (like lifestyle or accidents) explain why someone lives longer than someone else.

Scientists at Calico Life Sciences LLC, a Google-funded company dedicated to the biology of aging, worked with researchers at Ancestry to investigate the genetic effect on life expectancy. They analyzed the pedigrees of 439,361,203 people, including their dates of life, place of birth and family ties.

The large volume of the database allowed scientists to study families for several generations, analyzing the longevity of not only blood relatives, but also relatives from the side of a spouse.

Through mathematical and statistical calculations, scientists have found that in siblings and cousins, the hereditary factor plays about the same role as previous studies have shown. In particular, genes explain 20% to 30% of life expectancy, with this estimate dropping below 15% for relatives of the opposite sex.

The researchers also found that the life expectancy of spouses is more similar than that of siblings of the opposite sex. A possible explanation for this is that the spouses live in the same house and share non-genetic factors (diet and lifestyle).

However, the results of the study also showed that the spouse's cousins ​​or sisters have similar life expectancies, despite the fact that they are not blood relatives and did not live together.

How can this be explained? The authors believe that a likely explanation is “assortative marriages” (marriages in which there is a tendency for some phenotypic traits to be very similar in marriage partners, that is, a preference for choosing a marriage partner based on the presence or absence of any trait).

"Assorted marriage is a marriage pattern in which people with similar phenotypes are more likely to meet each other," said lead author J. Graham Ruby.

No one, of course, knows exactly when he or a potential partner will die, so assortative marriage is based on other factors. For example, income is known to affect life expectancy, as both partners are wealthy, well-nourished, and healthy. Since people from families with the same income level tend to marry each other, this explains the similarity in life expectancy, despite the fact that they are not blood relatives.

According to the researchers, if we take into account this factor of choosing a partner, then heredity actually explains no more than 7% of longevity, and perhaps even less. Genes alone cannot save you from early death.

Katie Ball also argues that although genetics do affect lifespan to some extent, their research shows that other factors have a much larger impact. Research findings suggest that those who want to live longer should eat better and healthier exercise and eat better, instead of relying on grandfather's good genes.

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