TUESDAY 6 Nov. 2018 (HealthDay News) – Your life partner has a much greater impact on your lifespan than the genes you inherited from your family, according to a new analysis of the pedigrees of more than 400 million people.
"Although it is a widespread belief that the life span of heredity ranges from about 15 to 30 percent, the findings discussed in this article have shown that the heritability of human life is probably well below 10 percent," said lead researcher Cathy Ball. She is head of research assistant for Ancestry, the popular genealogy website.
Earlier estimates were skewed because they were not an explanation for the strong influence that a person's partner or life partner can have on their life, according to Ball and her colleagues.
People tend to select partners who share the same characteristics as theirs, the researchers explained. If you have a lifestyle that will contribute to a longer life, you probably choose a partner who shares that lifestyle.
Dr. Gisele Wolf-Klein is a geriatrician at Northwell Health in Great Neck, NY She said: "There is a chance that you will try to work with someone with similar interests in terms of health habits, if you meet someone who wants to run a marathon with you Instead of being a couch potato, chances are that you will continue to run more marathons. "
Wealth can be another non-genetic trait shared by partners, the researchers suggested. If income contributes to longevity and rich people tend to marry other rich people, it can also contribute to their longevity.
After correcting for the effects of such pairing, the Ball team concluded that genetics contributes no more than 7 percent to life and possibly even less.
"The research results expose the complex dynamics of a long life," Ball said. "Although there is a genetic component, this study shows that there is a big impact of many other forces in your life."
For the study, researchers combed 54 million public family trees generated by Ancestry.com subscribers, representing 6 billion ancestors.
From then on, the team refined the records until they reached a series of human family trees with more than 400 million people, each of whom was connected by birth or marriage.
Things became interesting when the researchers started looking at people who were related only by marriage. They discovered that brothers and sisters and sisters-in-law had a comparable life, even though they are not blood relatives and usually do not live under the same roof.
Further analysis showed that factors that are important for life expectancy are generally very similar. People choose people who share values that shorten or prolong the life, according to the researchers.
The findings were published in the journal on 6 November Genetics.
"I think it is a very optimistic and positive message for us," said Wolf-Klein, who was not involved in the research.
"It outlines something that is becoming clearer to us all – we have a certain amount of control over who we are and what we become," she added. "Regardless of your genetics, if you stick to good diet, good practice, healthy habits, you can overcome some of the dooms of genetics."
The US National Institutes of Health has more to do with longevity and genetics.
SOURCES: Catherine Ball, Ph.D., chief scientific officer, Ancestry; Gisele Wolf-Klein, M.D., geriatrician, Northwell Health, Great Neck, N.Y .; 6 November 2018, Genetics