Longevity may lie more in lifestyle than genes

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Washington, May 6 : A bone health study of one of the oldest persons in the world, who recently died at the age of 114, has shown that the secret to long life may not lie in the genes.

Headed by Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona professor Adolfo Diez Perez, the research team indicated that longevity of the 114-year-old man was not linked to any genetic mutations.

Rather his excellent health was because of a healthy lifestyle, a Mediterranean diet, a temperate climate and regular physical activity.

Under the course of the study, the researchers studied the bone mass and analysed the genetics of a man with enviable health who at the time of the study was 113 years old.

The research also involved four other members of his family: a 101-year-old brother, two daughters aged 81 and 77, and a nephew aged 85, all of them born and still living in a small town of the island of Menorca.

After the analysis, it was found that the man's bones were in brilliant conditions: his bone mass was normal, there were no anomalous curvatures and he had never sustained a fracture.

In the genetic analysis, the researchers could not find any mutations in the KLOTHO gene, generally related to a good level of mineral density and therefore healthy bones. Also, they couldn't find any mutations even in the LRP5 gene, linked with longevity.

While no member of the family who participated in the study displayed any mutations in this gene, still the results did not defy the involvement of other genetic mutations that may influence longevity.

But, researchers said that the excellent health of this family and of the 114-year-old man in particular, is probably due to a Mediterranean diet, the temperate climate of the island, a lack of stress and regular physical activity. It was highlighted in the study that until the age of 102, the man cycled every day and looked after the family orchard.

The research findings were recently published in the Journal of Gerontology.

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