Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook


 


 

Lifespan linked by study to mutations and lifestyle

23 October 2017

By Annabel Slater

Appeared in BioNews 923

Weight loss, education, giving up smoking, and being open to new experiences have all been linked to longer life.

By combining genetic, lifestyle and family data from 600,000 people, researchers have been able to calculate the effect of specific factors on life expectancy.

'You can look directly at the effect of weight, in isolation, on lifespan,' explained author Dr Peter Joshi of the University of Edinburgh's Usher Institute.

Certain lifestyle choices, such as smoking, are known to affect health and life expectancy. Furthermore, certain genes are known to affect lifestyle behaviours and choices - such as a mutation linked to feelings of increased appetite. By comparing people who have such known mutations to those who do not, researchers at the University of Edinburgh were able to investigate the impact of genetic traits which affect lifestyle and disease on overall lifespan. 

The researchers used data from 25 separate population studies from Europe, including the UK BioBank, and from Australia and North America. They combined the participants’ genetic data with records of their parents’ lifespan. As each participant shares half their genetic information with each of their parents, they could assess the impact of different gene variants on life expectancy.

Their findings suggested every year spent in education could add an average of 11 months to people’s lifespan, and openness to new experience also increased life expectancy.

For every kilogram that a person was overweight, their lifespan was decreased by two months. The researchers also discovered a mutation that made smoking more appealing could cut lives by five months.

The researchers also discovered two new gene variants which affected lifespan, including one which increased levels of bad cholesterol in the blood and reduced lifespan by around eight months. The other, in a gene linked to the immune system, added around half a year to life expectancy.

‘We hope to discover novel genes affecting lifespan to give us new information about ageing and construct therapeutic interventions for ageing,’ said Dr Joshi to the BBC, saying that 20 percent of variation in lifespans may be inherited, but only one percent of such mutations have been found so far.

‘This is a large and important study, which confirms a lot of recent work in this area,’ said Professor David Melzer of University of Exeter Medical School, who was not involved in the study. He cautioned however that the analysis was mainly based on the lifespans of parents of middle-aged volunteers who took part in UK Biobank from 2006 to 2010.

‘Therefore the estimates of effect may not be relevant to our population now: an extra year of education then may have been much more important than it is now,' he said, also pointing out that people would not have had modern treatments for conditions such as high cholesterol.

The study was published in Nature Communications.

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

20 November 2017 - by Charlott Repschlager 
A rare genetic mutation leading to longer and healthier lives has been discovered in the US Amish community...

27 February 2017 - by Emma Laycock 
Researchers have found a set of bodyclock-controlled genes that activate in later life and times of intense stress to protect the body...
10 October 2016 - by Dr Ashley Cartwright 
A person's 'epigenetic age' can predict how long they will live, according to a study of over 13,000 individuals...
30 August 2016 - by Dr Ashley Cartwright 
Researchers in the US have found that Hispanic individuals age slower than people from other ethnic backgrounds...
09 February 2015 - by Dr Greg Ball 
Our DNA harbours a biological clock that can help predict how long a person will live, research suggests...
23 September 2013 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
A US study proclaiming the health benefits of stress management, gentle exercise and a 'plant-based' diet grabbed the attention of the world's media last week, but what was novel about the findings, and are the life-extending claims justified?...

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


- click here to enquire about using this story.

Published by the Progress Educational Trust

CROSSING FRONTIERS

Public Conference
London
8 December 2017

Speakers include

Professor Azim Surani

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge

Sally Cheshire

Professor Guido Pennings

Katherine Littler

Professor Allan Pacey

Dr Sue Avery

Professor Richard Anderson

Dr Elizabeth Garner

Dr Andy Greenfield

Dr Anna Smajdor

Dr Henry Malter

Vivienne Parry

Dr Helen O'Neill

Dr César Palacios-González

Philippa Taylor

Fiona Fox

Sarah Norcross

Sandy Starr


BOOK HERE

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation