Over time, the average life expectancy has increased. Because of modern advances like access to food, medical care, and clean drinking water, the average person can now expect to live to around 80 years old. But what determines the longevity of our lives? The answer might be in our genes.
Does genetics determine lifespan? According to Professor David Gems, an expert in ageing from the University College London, it is “near certain” that the upper limits of longevity among humans as a species are determined by genetics. This is apparent in the difference between human beings’ maximum lifespan and our closest relatives, which are the higher primates like chimpanzees and gorillas.
However, genetics may not necessarily be the primary deciding factor behind an individual person’s lifespan. There are some families with members who tend to live very long lives, but it can be difficult to determine whether these families enjoy longevity because of genetics or because of their environment. This is because families tend to have similar diets and amounts of physical activity, all of which are important factors in determining lifespan.
Still, many groups of researchers are still trying to find a definite answer as to what influences ageing and lifespan. By conducting studies that sequence and analyze the DNA of centenarians and even supercentenarians, researchers are still eager to find out the role genetics plays in determining longevity of life.
Then again, whatever role genetics plays in lifespan, it remains crucial to maintain a healthy, balanced diet and adequate physical activity. After all, these two simple things might hold the secret to longevity.
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