Study Finds That A Healthy Lifestyle Can Help Combat ‘Life-Shortening’ Genes 

Your genetic makeup plays a major role in shaping your overall health and lifespan. Some individuals are naturally predisposed to living a longer life, while others may have genes that will cause aging to be more difficult for them. 

However, according to a new large-scale study published in the British Medical Journal, healthy lifestyle decisions can help combat those negative predispositions. The study stated that your daily decisions regarding diet, exercise, and other lifestyle choices can cancel out around 60% of the impact of “life-shortening” genes. In fact, a healthy and consistent lifestyle can add another five years to your life, Forbes reported.

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Researchers involved in the study utilized genetic, biological, and health data from 353,742 participants and tracked their health for around 13 years, according to reports. The timespan of the study allowed the researchers to see how lifestyle and genetics specifically interact to influence longevity in life. 

Participants within the study were placed into three lifespan categories based on their genetic makeup, including protective and/or harmful variants. 

20% of participants were in the category of having genes that boost lifespan. Another 20% had genes that set them up for a shorter lifespan, and a majority of the participants, 60%, had genes that were “suggestive of an intermediate lifespan.” 

The researchers also categorized each participant into a lifestyle-score category: favorable (23%), intermediate (56%), and unfavorable (21%), according to Forbes

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These lifestyle “scores” were calculated by analyzing participants’ sleeping habits, diets, their physical activity, and how much they drank or smoked. Healthcare providers and scientists alike tend to agree that the best lifestyle habits attributed to living a long life include never smoking, a healthy diet, getting eight hours of sleep a night, and getting regular exercise. 

Individuals who are genetically predisposed to a shorter life due to their specific genetic makeup are 21% more likely to die at an earlier age compared to those with favorable genes. That percentage remains the same regardless of one’s lifestyle choices. 

One of the points of the study was to show that those with “life-shortening” genes can offset the effects of those genes by more than 60%, allowing them to live a longer and healthier life by nearly 5 years. 

The study also found that those with an unhealthy lifestyle are 78% more likely to die at an earlier age, regardless of their genetic predispositions. Healthy genes cannot protect an individual from the damaging effects of an unhealthy lifestyle. 

A major takeaway that the researchers are hoping the general public will gain from this information is that a healthy lifestyle really can make a difference in how you feel day-to-day.