Living to 100? Longevity and Genetics

There are several genes known as “longevity” genes that increase your odds of becoming a centenarian. Specific variants of these genes are associated with an increased likelihood of living to be 100 or more. And more importantly, these genetic variants are linked to longer ‘healthspan’.

What are the odds of living to 100?
Someone born a hundred years ago has less than 1% chance of being alive today. If you are female and born in 1973, your odds of living to 100 are 20%. Wondering about the odds for your birth year?  Here is a nice chart of your odds of living to 100 based on your birth year: http://discovertheodds.com/what-are-the-odds-of-living-to-100/

So if your odds of living to 100 are 20%, a gene that increases that by 1.5x or 2x is actually significant. Keep in mind, though, that while genetics does play a role in how long you live, there are other health and lifestyle factors that are also important. This is all about statistics here.

FOXO3A gene:

The FOXO3A gene (forkhead box O3) has been linked to longevity in several different studies. This gene is believed to regulate apoptosis, which is necessary for cell death, and is a tumor suppressor. One study describes it thus “FOXO proteins have been involved in the regulation of response to oxidative stress, starvation and caloric restriction with the final effect of increasing lifespan and prevent aging-related diseases, such as diabetes and cancer” [ref]  For the SNP rs2802292, the G allele was found to be an indicator of longevity.  The odds ratio of living longer for G/G vs. T/T was found to be 2.75 in a study of Japanese males. Another study of Italians found that a proxy of the SNP above is associated with a 1.5x increase in odds of longevity.

Check your 23andMe results for rs2802292 (v.4, v.5):

  • G/G: Increased odds of living longer (2.75x in some populations) [ref][ref]
  • G/T: increased odds of living longer
  • T/T:  Normal type

CETP Gene:
Another gene related to longevity is the CETP gene (cholesteryl ester transfer protein) which is involved in exchanging triglycerides with cholesteryl esters.  One polymorphism that is related to longevity is rs5882 (also referred to as I405V).  The G allele is associated with a somewhat longer lifespan.  Heterozygotes (A/G) and homozygotes (G/G) are more likely to have a longer lifespan and have higher HDL cholesterol.  Homozygotes (G/G) also have a .28x lower risk of dementia and a .31x lower risk of Alzheimer’s! [study]

Check your 23andMe results for rs5882 (V.4, v.5):

  • G/G: Longer lifespan, higher HDL cholesterol, decreased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s[ref]
  • A/G:  Longer lifespan, higher HDL cholesterol
  • A/A:  Normal

IGF1R gene:
The IGF1R gene codes for the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor. IGF1 is a hormone that signals for growth and anabolic activities. Growth hormone levels generally fall as we age.

Check your 23andMe data for rs2229765 (v4):

  • A/A: lower IGF levels, increased longevity[ref][ref]
  • A/G: normal longevity
  • G/G: normal

Lifehacks

Carrying the genes that increase my chance of living to 100 has changed my attitude and way of thinking about getting older. First, planning for retirement is important! But even more on my mind is that the things that I do now to optimize my health will pay off in the long run with a longer healthspan. Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease and optimizing my Circadian Rhythm are top on my list of lifehacks this year.

The Okinawan Diet is thought to promote healthy longevity in part through affecting FOXO3. The diet focuses on fresh vegetables, fish, lean meats, omega-3 fats, and unrefined carbohydrates.

Green tea polyphenols (EGC/G) have been found to increase FOXO3 levels.

Astaxanthin, naturally found in shrimp, salmon, and red algae, has been found to increase FOXO3 levels.[ref] If you aren’t getting enough astaxanthin from your diet, you can get it as a supplement.

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