Researchers out of Boston University believe that they’ve determined which genetic factors promote longevity.  Longevity is due to a number of different factors, many of them lifestyle related such as diet, exercise, smoking etc.  Many researchers now believe that living into the late nineties has more to do with your genes than it does with your lifestyle.  Professor Paola Sebastiani, a biostatistician at Boston University who is on the research team that made the discovery suggests that there is a strong genetic component to extreme longevity.

Scientists identified 150 DNA sequence variations called single nucleotide polymorphisms among those 100 years old and above that may have contributed to their healthy aging. In the control group, 15% of participants had longevity-associated genes suggesting that 15% of the American population are predisposed to live to be 100.  According to the researchers this test is 77% percent accurate.

What would you do with this information?

I heard Dr. Sebastiani (the researcher in the study) interviewed on WFYI this morning and she was asked if she had tested her self and she said no.  At first this came as a surprise to me, but made more sense as I thought about the impact of this imformation.  If you did know that you were going to live to 100 according to your DNA would you be less likely to follow a healthy lifestyle?  On the flip side, would you take more risks if you believed that you were going to have a short life. What if you made decisions based on test that were incorrect?  Unfortunately by the time you figured it out you it would be too late.

Dr. Sebastinani went on to say that the real value in this study is what we will learn about how people age.  The information gleaned from the study will help researchers understand why some people get diseases of old age sooner than others.  While it is interesting to think about the idea of taking a test that will predict your life span, it is important to remember that there are many other factor that play a role in longevity and there is a 23% chance that the test is wrong.

In the mean time, I’m going to continue to eat healthy, get regular chiropractic , exercise and try to limit my stress.  If it is in my genes that I’m going to check out early at least I felt my best during the time I had.