Sunday, May 16, 2010

Genes that let you live to be 100?

Scientists have apparently discovered genes whose lucky carriers have a much improved chance of living to be 100 even if they indulge in an unhealthy lifestyle. The genes appear to protect people against the effects of smoking and bad diet and can also delay the onset of age-related illnesses such as cancer and heart disease by up to 30 years. No single gene is a guaranteed fountain of youth. Instead, the secret of longevity probably lies in having the right collection of genes, according to studies of centenarians and their families. Such combinations are extremely rare — only one person in 10,000 reaches the age of 100. The genes appear to give a little extra protection against the diseases of old age. Centenarians seem to have a high chance of having several such genes embedded in their genomes. These genes are thought to include ADIPOQ, which is found in about 10% of young people but in nearly 30% of people living past 100. The CETP gene and the ApoC3 gene are found in 10% of young people, but in about 20% of centenarians. The studies show that tiny mutations in the make-up of particular genes can sharply increase a person’s lifespan. The human genome contains about 28,000 genes, but they are controlled by a tiny number of so-called regulator genes.

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