Length of days and quality of life depends on your choices not genetics.

As we age, we begin to think about our family histories and wonder how long it will be until we get XYZ disease that runs in our families.   New research shows that our life choices have more to do with our genes than our actual genes do.   What that means is that my choices, what I eat and  drink, how much drama I allow in my life, and how I conduct my thought life has more to do with how my body ages than my DNA.

A study published in the Human Kinesics Journal shows a correlation between genetic risks and physical activity.   In a nutshell:

  1. 5,446 Post-menopausal women were studied
  2. Aged 63 and older
  3. Divided into 3 groups by DNA risk factors for disease
  4. The study concluded that physical activity lowered the risk of mortality despite genetic factors.

In another study “Human Longevity: Genetics or Lifestyle? It takes Two to Tango,” published in Immunity and Aging, studied DNA and non-genetic factors as they relate to longevity.  They found that genetics or DNA only determines healthy aging about 25% of the time.  This means that 75% of the time, our lifestyle choices affect our genes. What does that mean?  Our environment (what we eat, drink, how we think, and the toxins we are exposed to) turn on and off our genes.  We want our good genes to stay in the ‘on’ position.  We want the bad genes to stay in the ‘off’ position.

In 2018, a study in the journal Genetics, shows us some interesting data:

  1. 43 million family trees were studied (406 million people)
  2. 7% of people’s lifespan was attributed to genetics.

In a further study of centenarians (those who live to be over 100) and supercentenarians (those older than 110 found that:

  1. They have healthy lifestyles:
    1. They do not smoke
    2. They do not abuse alcohol or drugs
    3. They are not obese
    4. They cope well with stress.
    5. They have a healthy diet.
  2. Most of them are women

There are two hypotheses for longevity  put forth by Dr. Nir Barzailai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine:

  1. Centenarians do all the right things to stay healthy
    1. Diet and Lifestyle
    2. Positive Outlook
    3. Relaxed approach to life
  2. They may have the ‘perfect genome.’ They may not have a genetic risk for
    1. Alzheimer’s Disease
    2. Cardiovascular disease
    3. Cancer

It is apparent from these studies that it is not inevitable that we have the same age related diseases that our parents did.   We have the power to make the right choices to live long and strong.  Will we empower ourselves?


Until next time,


Dr. Polly