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A healthy lifestyle can offset the effects of life-shortening genes by more than 60%

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A healthy lifestyle can offset the effects of life-shortening genes by more than 60%

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A healthy lifestyle can offset the effects of life-shortening genes by more than 60%, suggests an analysis of findings from several large long-term studies, published online in the journal BMJ evidence-based medicine.

Although genes and lifestyle appear to have an additive effect on a person’s lifespan, an unhealthy lifestyle is independently linked to a 78% increased risk of dying prematurely, regardless of genetics, the study found.

The polygenic risk score (PRS) combines multiple genetic variants to determine a person’s overall genetic predisposition to a longer or shorter lifespan. And lifestyle – tobacco use, alcohol consumption, diet quality, sleep quotas and physical activity levels – is a key factor.

But it is not clear to what extent a healthy lifestyle can compensate for the genetic predisposition to a shorter lifespan, the researchers say.

To investigate this further, they used a total of 353,742 adults, who were recruited from the UK Biobank between 2006 and 2010 and whose health was followed until 2021.

A polygenic risk score was derived for long (20% of participants), medium (60%), and short (20%) life risks, using data from the LifeGen cohort study.

And a weighted score for a healthy lifestyle, including no smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, regular exercise, a healthy body shape, adequate sleep and a healthy diet, was divided into favorable (23% of participants), moderate (56%) and unfavorable ( 22%) lifestyles, based on data from the American NHANES study.

During an average tracking period of almost 13 years, 24,239 participants died.

Those genetically predisposed to a short lifespan were 21% more likely to die early than those genetically predisposed to a long lifespan, regardless of their lifestyle.

Likewise, those with unfavorable lifestyles were 78% more likely to die before their time than those with favorable lifestyles, regardless of their genetics.

And those with a high genetic risk for a shorter lifespan and who had an unfavorable lifestyle were twice as likely to die as those who were genetically predisposed to a long life and who had a favorable lifestyle.

Four factors in particular seemed to form the optimal lifestyle combination: not smoking; regular physical activity; sufficient sleep; and a healthy diet.

This is an observational study and as such no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, with the researchers acknowledging several limitations to their findings.

For example, lifestyle was only assessed at one point in time and lifestyle choices differed by age. The participants were also all of European descent, which may limit the generalizability of the findings, the researchers say.

Nevertheless, they suggest that their findings indicate that the genetic risk of a shorter lifespan or premature death can be offset by approximately 62% by a favorable lifestyle.

Those at high genetic risk for a shorter lifespan could extend their life expectancy at age 40 by almost 5.5 years with a healthy lifestyle, they suggest, adding that given the way lifestyle habits are often cemented before middle age, steps should be taken to reduce the genetic predisposition. to a shortened life are necessary before then.

“This study clarifies the critical role of a healthy lifestyle in mitigating the impact of genetic factors on lifespan shortening,” they conclude. “Public health policies to improve healthy lifestyles would serve as a powerful complement to conventional health care and mitigate the influence of genetic factors on human longevity.”

More information:
Genetic predisposition, adaptive lifestyles and their joint effects on human lifespan: evidence from multiple cohort studies, BMJ evidence-based medicine (2024). DOI: 10.1136/bmjebm-2023-112583

Provided by British Medical Journal


Quote: A healthy lifestyle can offset the effects of life-shortening genes by more than 60% (2024, April 29), retrieved April 29, 2024 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2024-04-healthy-lifestyle-offset-effects -life .html

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