Misconception

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LIVING 100 YEARS OR MORE: IS IT ALL IN THE GENES?

Posted by avnerhershlag on July 4, 2010


In a new study published in Science, Genetic Signatures of Exceptional Longevity in Humans, ( Sebastiani & Perls ,BU), the genome of over 1000 people who lived to be 100 or more was studied.  The authors constructed a genetic model that included 150 genetic markers (called SNP, pronounced “snips” – similar to the technique used by the FBI for genetic fingerprinting):  They identified 19 patterns that predicted with 77% accuracy who would live to be 100 and beyond. Currently, 1 in 6000 people may live to be 100 and 1 in 7 million makes it to 110!

Comment:

  • Here we go again: nature or nurture: which is more important?
  • Dr. Sebastiani commented that Seventh Day Adventists have an average life expectancy of 88, eight years more than average US contemporaries, which has been attributed to their vegetarianism, exercise, no smoking, no alcohol, less stress because they rely on religion… question is, do they have fun living this long?
  • Now – I’m sure you’re asking – so if I have the centenarian genetics  – can I go ahead and not worry about “healthy living” – eat what I want and as much as I want… drink, smoke.. not stress about stress – and live happily ever after?
  • And If I don’t have the long life doom – should I be preparing for a short life and if that’s my genetic destiny anyway – shouldn’t I just live it up since it’s all in the genes?
  • Genetic Hedonism?
  • Life Insurance premium may soon be based on your genome: if there is a genetic test to predict that one person will get sick early in life and die young, and another will live to a hundred, disease free, insurance companies may prefer to check your longevity markers rather than your cholesterol or blood pressure!
  • From my perspective, perhaps we’ll be able to check embryos for potential longevity.   Through embryo biopsy (PGD), we may in the near future, be able to check for multiple “predictive” genes, and help patients choose to get pregnant with embryos that have the potential to live to be 100 years old and older!
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