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WHERE IS THE LONG LIFE GENE?

 WHERE IS THE LONG LIFE GENE?

‘Old age has been linked to genetics, but when a team of Stanford University researchers tried to find the exact gene, it proved to be elusive.’
For years now, it has been accepted in medical circles that long life runs in families. Genetic studies of the past have revealed that relatives of centenarians – people who live to be over 100 years old – are seventeen times more likely than ‘normal’ people to reach the magic three-figure milestone. Also, studies have shown that centenarians have no particular differences in their smoking, drinking and exercising habits compared to the general population. These two facts put together suggest that perhaps long life – especially super long life – is genetically determined.
However, when a team of Stanford University researchers set out to find this gene, it proved to be mysteriously elusive. They examined the seventeen longest-living specimens of humanity across the world and they were not able to find a single point of genetic variance between them and the general population. The hope was that if we could isolate this genetic variant and reproduce it in the test tube, we could potentially use it to produce a similar effect among others too.
The participants in this study ranged from ages 110 to 116, and all but one of them were female. They had no heart diseases, stroke or diabetes, and only one participant had cancer. What’s more, one reportedly worked as a general practitioner until the age of 103, and another drove their car until they were 107.
But the genetic mutation still proved elusive. Could it be that long life is a random occurrence with a very low probability, and that these seventeen are just life’s lottery winners? Could it be that it is survivorship bias at work that push us into finding answers where there probably aren’t any?
Regardless, if one finds a long life gene, sign us up for the first batch test!

Jenn Patrick

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