Over the last 100 years, human life expectancy has increased almost everywhere in the world. While it is undeniable that notable differences exist between developed and undeveloped countries, the reality is that progress in healthcare and better nutrition and hygiene, have lengthened global longevity.
Vivian Collazo Montano
Experts estimate the average lifespan at 66.7 years, but in some countries it is over 80 years, something that many say could increase even more, perhaps even to 100 or beyond, as something natural for the majority. Of course, they also assume this increase will be accompanied by a better quality of life.
However, to increase life expectancy, certain attitudes and habits are needed, such as not smoking, exercising, avoiding alcohol, and above all, a balanced diet, with plenty of green vegetables, legumes, fruits, fish, monounsaturated fats, and little red meat. With all of this, however, a little help from your genes is also needed.
Longevity in the genes
At least, that is what experts with the Boston University Medical Center say, after analyzing the genome of 1,055 individuals over 100 years old from all over the world and 1,267 people from the general population. In their analysis, the specialists identified a number of common genetic markers among the centenarians, and very different markers between that group and the other randomly selected individuals.
The investigators concluded that having a long life does not depend so much on your hereditary predisposition to contract illness, but on having genetic combinations associated with longevity, just like having bad habits and lifestyles hinder greater longevity. While lifestyle and family and environmental factors are essential to healthy aging, genetic variants play a critical and complex role in exceptional human longevity, the study authors explain, led by Professor Paola Sebastian.
Given that many genes are involved in aging, the scientists developed a mathematical model for computing who has a greater probability of reaching an advanced age. Based on 150 genetic markers, they were able to predict, with 77 percent precision, who would live more than 100 years.
These results increase the possibility that some day, it might be possible to learn beforehand who has the potential to celebrate one century of life, they said. In addition, future studies of these genetic markers would make it possible to decipher specific patterns of healthy aging, and they could be utilized for personalized medical care, with preventive measures and treatment strategies made to order, they said.