Several genetic factors can influence longevity, including the presence of specific gene variants associated with diseases that can impact lifespan. For example, certain variations in the APOE gene have been linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, which can potentially affect lifespan. Similarly, mutations in genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 are associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and these conditions can impact longevity as well.
Apart from disease-related genes, there are also genetic factors known as longevity-associated variants (LAVs) that have been associated with extended lifespan. LAVs have been identified in genes that regulate various biological processes, such as metabolism, DNA repair, and inflammation. However, having these favorable genetic variants does not guarantee a longer life, as other environmental and lifestyle factors also play significant roles.
There was a claim years ago about a genetic test that could predict lifespan:
A genetic test which tells whether you will make it to your century has been developed by scientists. The computer program will give individuals their odds of reaching the age of 100 – and tell them whether their chances are higher or lower than average. Its inventors, from the respected Boston University in the U.S., say it will allow those not blessed with the cocktail of ‘centenarian genes’ to make changes to their lifestyle to maximise the time they have. But the breakthrough raises moral questions about the effects of being told your destiny – and about who picks up the pieces if the test results are wrong.
The above was publishedthis was published online 21 July 2011:
A prominent paper that claimed to reveal the genetic factors that help people live to 100 or older has been retracted1, a year after it was first released. The study, published in Science2, reported 150 genetic variations that could be used to predict whether a person was genetically inclined to see their 100th birthday. The results were based on a search through the genomes of more than 1,000 centenarians. But shortly after the paper was published, a host of criticisms arose. In particular, geneticists noted that the control samples and the samples from centenarians were analysed in slightly different ways. Last November, Science editor Bruce Alberts published an editorial expression of concern3 and noted that the authors were working to address the issue.
Today, the authors are officially retracting the paper, acknowledging that the original analysis was flawed.
The incident could haunt the work of others who are searching for the genetic underpinnings of longevity, says Thomas Kirkwood, director of the Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University, UK. “It means that people are going to be more cautious about future studies,” he says.
A retraction like this is evidence that wrong things published in scientific journals do get caught even if they pass initial review. The system works, eventually. Can a genetic test tell your odds of living to 100? It depends on how big a role genetics play. If only about one quarter of the variance in human lifespan is due to genetics, it is best to focus on lifestyle.