Following a Healthy Lifestyle Can Lower Risk of Death For Genetically Predisposed People, Study Shows

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A recent genetic study suggests that maintaining a healthy lifestyle may significantly reduce the impact of genes that shorten lifespan. Researchers found that despite genetic predispositions, adhering to healthy habits could reduce the effects of life-shortening genes by over 60%. Additionally, they discovered that an unhealthy lifestyle independently raises the risk of premature death by 78%, regardless of genetic factors.

Healthy living impacts life expectancy of individuals

The polygenic risk score assesses various genetic factors to determine an individual’s predisposition for longevity. Factors such as tobacco and alcohol consumption, diet, sleep, and physical activity also significantly impact life expectancy.

Researchers conducted a study to investigate how a healthy lifestyle might counteract genetic factors affecting lifespan. They analyzed data from 353,742 adults in the UK Biobank from 2006 to 2010, tracking their health until 2021. Using data from the LifeGen cohort study, they calculated polygenic risk scores for long, intermediate, and short lifespans.

Additionally, they devised a weighted healthy lifestyle score, incorporating factors like moderate alcohol consumption, no smoking, regular exercise, healthy body weight, sufficient sleep, and a balanced diet. Participants were categorized into favorable, intermediate, and unfavorable lifestyle groups based on data from the U.S. NHANES study.

Individuals with genetic predisposition to death at risk of premature death

Over a span of nearly 13 years, 24,239 individuals passed away. Those with genetic inclinations toward shorter lifespans faced a 21% higher risk of early mortality compared to those predisposed to longer lives, regardless of lifestyle factors.

The study found that individuals with an unhealthy lifestyle were significantly more likely to die prematurely, even when genetic predisposition was taken into account. Those with both a high genetic risk and an unhealthy lifestyle faced double the risk of premature death compared to those with a low genetic risk and a healthy lifestyle. Factors such as not smoking, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and a balanced diet were highlighted as components of a healthy lifestyle. However, because the study was observational, it couldn’t directly establish a causal link between healthy living and life expectancy.

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