Why do some people live to be 100 or older? Healthy living and good fortune certainly factor in. But so too does the right DNA, according to a study published in PLOS Genetics.
Investigators from Stanford University found that a number of genes and where they are located can add years to a person’s life.
Lead Author Kristen Fortney and colleagues first developed a new statistical method that takes advantage of knowledge from fourteen diseases to narrow the search for genes associated with longevity. They discovered five longevity loci that provide clues about physiological mechanisms for successful aging. These loci are known to be involved in various processes including cell senescence, autoimmunity and cell signaling, and also with Alzheimer’s disease.
This study departs from earlier efforts in that it is the first to identify several gene loci associated with longevity. Previous studies isolated a single gene: APOE.
By some estimates, there are about 55,000 “Super Seniors” in the United States aged 100 or older. This group is now the world’s fastest-growing demographic.