Thursday November 15, 2018

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 Genes May Not Help You Live Long. Pixabay
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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)

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Genes Tied to Obesity May Lower Risk of Diabetes

"Meanwhile, some lean or normal weight individuals develop diseases like Type-2 diabetes," Yaghootkar noted

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Poor aerobic fitness can up diabetes, heart disease risk in kids. Pixabay

Certain genetic factors may impact our body in intriguingly paradoxical ways. A team of scientists has identified 14 new genetic variations that were linked with higher Body Mass Index (BMI) but have the potential to lower risk of diabetes, lower blood pressure and lower heart disease risk.

According to researchers, it is because the location — around middle or round the liver — where surplus fat is stored could be genetically determined.

This location is more important than the amount when it comes to insulin resistance and risk of diabetes and other conditions.

“There are some genetic factors that increase obesity, but paradoxically reduce metabolic risk. It is to do with where on the body the fat is stored,” said Brunel Alex Blakemore, Professor at the Brunel University London.

The findings revealed that as they gain weight, people who carry these genetic factors store it safely under the skin, and so have less fat in their major organs such as the liver, pancreas and kidneys.

Diabetes
Representational image. Pixabay

“Directly under the skin is better than around the organs or especially, within the liver,” Blakemore added.

For the study, published in the journal Diabetes, the team examined more than 500,000 people aged between 37 and 73.

They used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans of these people’s waists to match where they stored extra fat with whether they showed signs of Type-2 diabetes, heart attack and risk of stroke.

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“There are many overweight or obese individuals who do not carry the expected metabolic disease risks associated with higher BMI,” explained Hanieh Yaghootkar from the University of Exeter in Britain.

“Meanwhile, some lean or normal weight individuals develop diseases like Type-2 diabetes,” Yaghootkar noted. (IANS)