- DNA and genes have little to do with lifespan
- 90 percent of longevity is based on lifestyle choices
- While there are no magic bullets for longevity, following the Baseline of Health program can help.
Don't blame your family for your health
Many people like to blame their families for any negative aspect of their health or weight, as in “I inherited my mother's slow metabolism” or “I am probably doomed to have diabetes because he was on my father's side lies. “While certain traits like hair or eye color are passed on to us directly from our parents, others are simply one of many factors that can contribute to an outcome. Most chronic health problems, including heart disease and diabetes, fall into this category of things we can't blame our parents for. And now, new research suggests that we can't play the guilt game on our lifespan because it actually has little to do with our genes.
Lifestyle and Longevity Study
The study, conducted by Calico Life Sciences LLC (a company that conducts research in various fields of medicine and genetics) in partnership with Ancestry (a company that helps individuals track their lineage) found that more than 90 Percent of our longevity is based on our lifestyle choices and less than 10 percent comes from genetics. These results were uncovered through a massive survey that involved more than 400 million people.
A collection of anonymous family trees, compiled for those who subscribe to Ancestry, was researched to obtain information on extended family longevity through birth and marriage. The researchers recorded the year of birth, year of death, place of birth, and a variety of family connections for this huge pool of subjects. The depth of the population sample allowed for a more comprehensive study of several generations of a family, rather than just parents and possibly grandparents. It also provided information about spouses and unrelated family members.
Supporting studies confirm
Using statistical formulas to evaluate the data collected, the initial indications were similar to previous studies. It was found that around 20 to 30 percent of our life expectancy is inherited – but only in siblings and first cousins of the same sex. Once the math was applied to close relatives of the opposite sex, however, all bets were void – the results showed that less than 15 percent of life expectancy could be explained by genes.
Interestingly, the calculations showed that the life expectancy of spouses tended to be more similar than that of mixed-sex siblings. This is further evidence that our behavior is more important than our DNA in many ways, as married couples live together and tend to share the same diet and lifestyle. This leads to a higher similarity rate for longevity.
But why did sisters-in-law and first cousins have a comparable lifespan even though they are neither genetically related nor live together? The theory put forward by the researchers is that "assortative mating" occurs, meaning that people tend to choose partners with similar phenotypes. Phenotypes are physical characteristics related to health and behavior, and the hypothesis here is that the phenotypes cause people to unconsciously seek a partner whose background, habits, income level, and other factors are in common with their own.
After all the numbers had been determined, the statistical calculations showed that the lifespan is almost entirely related to our lifestyle and that heredity only accounts for a maximum of seven percent of our lifespan. This is good news for you if your family tree is marked by early mortality, but not so good news if you have close relatives who lived until the 1990s. Ultimately, however, it is a good reminder that we are really the ones who control our own health destinies.
Opting for a healthy lifestyle through good diet, daily exercise, and regular stress relief techniques can help you avoid many diseases and live longer lives. And while there are no magic bullets guaranteed to help fight the aging process and increase your life expectancy, following the Baseline of Health program can improve your immune system, reduce systemic inflammation, and rid your body of harmful toxins. To learn more about natural antiaging, read Jon Barron's four-segment series starting with the first article, titled "The Nature of Aging, Part 1".