Inherited gene could take 3 years off life expectancy

31 March 2016

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh have identified changes in DNA that can cut a person's life expectancy by up to three years.

There are two separate areas of the human genome that have been discovered and it's in these that there are differences in DNA code that can affect how long a person lives.

Relatively common in the population these two changes, or variants, are inherited as a single copy by two thirds of us from our mother or father.

Having a copy of one type could reduce life expectancy by up to a year, while around three in 1,000 people will inherit two copies of both variants, resulting in a reduced lifetime of up to three years.

According to research from the team, one of the variants is linked to a gene associated with an increased risk of lung cancer, the other is in a gene that corresponds to Alzheimer's disease and high cholesterol.

The different types also affected the lifespan of men and women differently, as the link to Alzheimer's disease had a greater effect on women, whereas the lung disease association affected more men.

Dr Peter Joshi, of the University of Edinburgh's Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, said that although this discovery shows genetics has a large effect on lifespan "lifestyle has the greatest impact on how long we live and that is under our control".

Posted by Edward Bartel


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