After taking a look at the genetic make up of some of the world’s most long-lived, scientists at Boston University believe they may have pinpointed a set of 150 individual genetic markers that are linked to an extended lifetime. Although it was unclear how exactly they contribute to a longer life, these markers came to light after scientists examined the DNA of 1,000 elderly over the age of 100.
This scientific breakthrough narrowed down indicators from the 3 billion DNA characters on the human genome to genetic markers on 70 different genes. Depending on different factors related to lifestyle, diet, and personal injuries, the genes enhance a person’s chances of living up to their long-lived potential. Using the identified genetic markers, Boston University researchers were able to determine those who would exceed lifetime expectations with a 77% accuracy in controlled tests. The scientists who carried out the research do not plan on generating profit from the findings, but rather would like to foster longevity research by providing free testing kits on the internet starting later this month.
Although an interesting scientific discovery, the repercussions of testing that informs people about their disposition towards longevity may raise social issues about how we live our lives. Knowing that your genes indicate your predicted lifespan raises complex questions about life decisions such as retirement, life insurance, and marriage. When the average lifetime of someone in a developed country is between 80 and 85, the knowledge that there is a high likelihood you will live another two or three decades adjusts expectations about career-length and level of savings necessary to retire. It seems that life planning may never be the same.
To read more about these longevity research findings check out the Wall Street Journal article here.