View Full Version : Fountain of long life from your genes

June Pelo
06-08-10, 01:05
A study, by Paola Sebastiani and Dr. Thomas Peris of Boston U, was published online in the journal Science. It analyzed the DNA of more than 1,000 centenarians and found a set of small DNA variations called genetic markers that can be used to predict "exceptional longevity" with 77% accuracy. There are different paths to becoming a centenarian - people age in different ways. For most people, environment and lifestyle also play important roles in aging. Only upon reaching extremely old age do genes take center stage.

In the US where the average life expectancy is about 78 years, centenarians account for about 1 out of every 6,000 people. Supercentenarians, or people older than 110, are even rarer, at 1 out of 7 million. The task now is to characterize the 150 genetic markers and biochemical pathways identified in the study. The genes so far identified only explain a portion of the advanced age enjoyed by the study participants. Almost a quarter of the centenarians had very few of the markers identified in the study. The researchers plan to look at the DNA of these unusual subjects more closely to see if they can find additional longevity genes.

It has long been known that old age runs in families. Jeanne Calment, the French woman born in 1875, reached 122 before she died in 1997 and has the longest confirmed human life span ever recorded. The oldest living person is 114-year-old Eugenie Blanchard, also French.)

Calment's parents were long-lived. Her father died at 94 and her mother at 86. Overall, 24% of her immediate relatives lived at least into their 80s, compared with 2% of the general population. Calment met Vincent Van Gogh when she was 13, began fencing at age 85, gave up smoking at 120, and released a spoken voice CD accompanied by rap and hip-hop two days before her 121st birthday.

Rachel Bernstein, LA Times

(I have a cousin who will be 105 in a couple of months, and she's still going strong.)