May 25, 2024


A healthy lifestyle can offset the impact of genetics by more than 60% and add another five years to your life, according to the first study of its kind.

It is well established that some people are genetically predisposed to a shorter lifespan. It is also common knowledge that lifestyle factors, specifically smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and physical activity, can have an impact on longevity.

However, until now there has been no investigation to understand to what extent a healthy lifestyle can balance genetics.

Findings from several long-term studies suggest that a healthy lifestyle can offset the effects of life-shortening genes by 62% and add as much as five years to your life. The results were published in the journal BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine.

“This study explains the crucial role of a healthy lifestyle in mitigating the impact of genetic factors on lifespan reduction,” the researchers concluded. “Public health policies to improve healthy lifestyles will serve as powerful adjuncts to conventional health care and mitigate the influence of genetic factors on human lifespan.”

The study involved 353,742 people from the UK Biobank and showed that those with a high genetic risk of a shorter life had a 21% increased risk of early death compared to those with a low genetic risk, regardless of their lifestyle.

Meanwhile, people with an unhealthy lifestyle have a 78% greater chance of early death, regardless of their genetic risk, researchers from Zhejiang University School of Medicine in China and the University of Edinburgh found.

The study added that an unhealthy lifestyle and shorter lifespan genes more than double the risk of early death compared to people with happier genes and a healthy lifestyle.

However, researchers found that people do have some control over what happened. The genetic risk of a shorter lifespan or premature death can be neutralized by a favorable lifestyle by around 62%, they found.

They wrote, “Participants at high genetic risk could add approximately 5.22 years of life expectancy at age 40 with a favorable lifestyle.”

The “optimal lifestyle combination” for a longer life was found to be “never smoking, regular physical activity, adequate sleep and healthy diet”.

The study followed people for an average of 13 years, during which 24,239 deaths occurred. People were grouped into three genetically determined lifespan categories including long (20.1%), intermediate (60.1%) and short (19.8%), and three lifestyle score categories including favorable (23.1%), intermediate (55 .6%) and unfavorable (21.3%). ).

Researchers used polygenic risk scores to look at multiple genetic variants to arrive at a person’s overall genetic predisposition to a longer or shorter life. Other scores looked at whether people smoked, drank alcohol, exercised, their body shape, healthy diet and sleep.

Matt Lambert, a senior health information officer at the World Cancer Research Fund, said: “This new research shows that, despite genetic factors, a healthy lifestyle, including eating a balanced nutritious diet and staying active, can help us live longer to live.”



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