Family tree of 400 million people shows genetics has limited influence on longevity

Although long life tends to run in families, genetics has far less influence on life span than previously thought, according to a new analysis of more than 400 million people. The results suggest that the heritability of life span is well below past estimates, which failed to account for our tendency to select partners with similar traits to our own.

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Genealogy is greater than genetics.

That’s not what I read. Genetics is less important factor but genealogy is not even a factor - zero. Am I missing something subtle here?

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You are missing something obvious. We’ve known in medicine for a while that genetics does not predict longevity or disease nearly as well as pedigree (i.e. genealogy). Genetics transmits along some links of the pedigree, but socioeconomic status, culture, etc., all transmits less selectively a long links. The familial relationships, even when distant, are far more predictive than genetics except in very narrow (and important) situations. That is precisely what this study shows.


Ok I get it. Thanks. Amazing insights that can be obtain by analyzing big data like 400 million people…

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the bible says man is given 70 yearts and 89 with health. after that the bible mentions other reasons for long life as in blessings. it also mentions God lets there be long life in evil people for other reasons.
on my fathers side they were long livers. hiting 90’s and 100. they were farmers. not my father however.
my mothers side were not so long but she is.
i think its likely we are all so much alike in bodies that the trivial differences of relatives would make no difference to anyone.
i think we are all independent. In bodies. nothing about cultureal influences, wealth influences etc etc.
just the pure body and all things being equal.

Changes made

Joshua, what you are describing reminds me of what has so amazed me about longevity among Hispanics in Texas and Puerto Rico (for example.) They tend to have less nutritious diets (heavy on Omega-6 corn, high glycemic index foods, etc.), work grueling and even dangerous jobs others don’t want, experience high poverty rates, and have genetic factors through their Native American heritage which makes them especially prone to various medical problems. Nevertheless, they live significantly longer on average than Americans of non-Hispanic European ancestry!

All of the scientific papers I’ve read on this topic point to significant cultural factors which give Hispanic Americans incredible advantages. Most such papers identified family structures and community support during infirmity and old age. They may experience much less stress when dealing with the uncertainties of their own futures and mortality. (I would guess that most of them don’t obsess about buying expensive insurance for long-term healthcare in retirement facilities.)

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I agree with wealt and culture affects on the bidy. i didn’t mean that. i meant it doesn’t affect the innate life expectancy. poverty, etc INTERFERE with the normal life expectancy. yet they don’t control it.
Getting richer, or other cultural details will not make us live to 100.
its just 70/80. However poverity/etc does reduce life expectancy.

I disagree. World wide wealth and advancement in science and technology has made at birth life expectancy far greater in the past century for all humans. This can and should continue well into the future. There are millions alive today who will live well past 100. Soon it will be the norm.

i don’t agree. i wish it was true. i see human biology as fixed in its ability to survive. take animals for example. while some live longer in domestication then in the wil one still would never increase our dogs/cats to 30, 40, 50 years of age before death. they are stuck in the teens with a few famous twenty year olds.
Their bodies allow no more ability regardless of any hep.
i don’t think its greater today for us. It still works out to the bible/and other ancient commentators 70/80 and then other reasons for longer.

I noticed that the major networks’ news and information programs emphasized this genetics-and-longevity story this morning. The hosts of the programs were really struggling to believe that genetics could be only around 7% longevity contribution.

I admit that I was pretty much blown away by the science. I had assumed that things like
genetic propensity for heart disease and cancer were hugely determinative.

Fortunately, the hosts noted that this news should make people feel motivated to “take charge” and improve their diets and lifestyles and not assume that their genes programmed them to die at the age of their parents.