Our environment and the habits we cultivate are said to have huge impacts on our life spans. However, a new study has subtly contested this statement: the researchers have suggested that the secret to a long life is found in the genome. They have examined the DNA of a group of supercentenarians and concluded that their genes might possibly be the reason of them going beyond 100 years of age.
People living beyond 110 years of age, supercentenarians, might be having super genes that promote longevity. Such was suggested when the genomes of 17 elderly people were examined by researchers; the participants had all gone past 110 years old. It was also speculated that lifestyle does not seem to have much of a bearing on the process.
According to the authors, “lifestyle choices in terms of smoking, alcohol
consumption, exercise, or diet do not appear to differ between centenarians and controls”; the controls were younger people to whom the 100+ people were compared.
The food we eat is supposed to make us up. How come eating habits do not seem to impact upon life span? However surprising it may sound, many 100-years+ people have reported that they still consume wine, smoke cigars, and other bad habits.
The authors of the new paper published in Plos One suggested that the longevity might be the result of the action of a rare protein-altering variant. They have associated the gene TSHZ3 with the possible fountain-of-youth element. This was the gene that was observed to show the “most enrichment for protein-altering variants in supercentenarians compared to controls was the TSHZ3 transcription-factor gene”. However, this gene might not be functioning on its own. Rather, the researchers are of the opinion that a whole array of genes affect the processes.
Another golden aspect observed in the supercentenarians is that they have reduced cancer risks. The lifetime incidence of cancer for the oldest people living on the Earth is at 19 %, while the same for the younger people is at 49.
The scientists are positive that the secret to the long lives of the supercentenarians is encoded in their genomes.
Old is gold, they say. Perhaps, the gold of it is all in the DNA?