Thursday January 17, 2019

Your Genes May Not Help You Live Long

The answer might lie in assortative mating. People tend to select partners with traits like their own -- in this case, how long they live, they explained

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Your uncle's genes may decide your longevity: Study. Pixabay

Although long life tends to run in families, genes has far less influence on life span than previously thought, according to a new analysis of an aggregated set of family trees of more than 400 million people.

The study suggests that the heritability of life span is well below past estimates, which failed to account for our tendency to select partners with similar traits to our own.

“We can potentially learn many things about the biology of ageing from human genetics, but if the heritability of life span is low, it tempers our expectations about what types of things we can learn and how easy it will be,” said lead author Graham Ruby, from Calico Life Sciences — a US-based research and development company.

“It helps contextualise the questions that scientists studying ageing can effectively ask,” she added

Heritability measures how much life span can be explained by genetic differences, excluding differences like lifestyle, sociocultural factors and accidents.

While previous estimates of human life span heritability have ranged from around 15 to 30 percent, in the new study it was likely no more than seven per cent, perhaps even lower.

For the study, published in the journal Genetics, the team used online genealogy resource with subscriber-generated public family trees representing six billion ancestors.

Each of them was connected to another by either a parent-child or a spouse-spouse relationship. Pixabay

Removing redundant entries and those from people who were still living, they stitched the remaining pedigrees together included more than 400 million people, largely Americans of European descent.

Each of them was connected to another by either a parent-child or a spouse-spouse relationship.

They focused on relatives who were born across the 19th and early 20th centuries, and noted that the life span of spouses tended to be correlated, more similar than in siblings of opposite gender.

Comparing different types of in-laws, they found that siblings-in-law and first-cousins-in-law had correlated life spans, despite not being blood relatives and not generally sharing households.

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The finding that a person’s sibling’s spouse’s sibling or their spouse’s sibling’s spouse had a similar life span to their own made it clear that something else was at play, the researchers said.

The answer might lie in assortative mating. People tend to select partners with traits like their own — in this case, how long they live, they explained. (IANS)

Next Story

Genes of Your Uncle or Aunt May Decide Your Longevity, Says Study

The study has led us to be far stricter in selecting the people in whom you have to look for those genes, the researchers said

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Your uncle's genes may decide your longevity: Study. Pixabay

The key to longevity can probably be found in the genes of your long-living uncles and aunts and not just parents, finds a study.

Researchers, from Netherlands’ Leiden University and US’ University of Utah, showed that an individual’s chances of dying is reduced, even if the parents themselves did not live to be extremely old, but aunts and uncles are among the top survivors in the family.

Top survivors refers to people in the top 10 per cent age-wise of a group of people born in a family within a given time period.

“We observed the more long-lived relatives you have, the lower your hazard of dying at any point in life,” said lead author Niels van den Berg, doctoral student at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

“Longevity is heritable, but that primarily applies to persons from families where multiple members are among the top 10 per cent survivors of their birth cohort. The key to a long life can probably be found in the genes of these families,” said the paper published in the journal Nature Communications.

Genes. Pixabay

For the study, the team analysed the genealogies of nearly 314,819 people from over 20,360 families.

The search for genes associated with human longevity has been ongoing for a long time but those genes turned out to be much more difficult to discover than genes for diseases.

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The study has led us to be far stricter in selecting the people in whom you have to look for those genes, the researchers said.

According to Ken Smith, Professor at Utah, the findings underscore the importance of constructing high-quality family trees that “allow us to observe complete life-spans of individuals over generations and in diverse locations. (IANS)