According to a new family tree analysis of over 400 million people, your life partner has a far greater impact on your longevity than the genetic genes that you inherited from your family.
"Although there is a widespread perception that life-span legacy ranges from about 15 to 30%, the conclusions in this document suggest that human longevity is less than 10%," said lead researcher Cathy Ball. She is the chief scientific officer, a popular pedigree website.
The previous estimates were unstable because they did not reflect the strong influence that a person's spouse or life partner could have on their longevity, said Balls and his colleagues.
People are finding partners with similar characteristics, explains researchers. If you have a lifestyle that will promote a longer life, you may choose a mate who agrees to this lifestyle.
Dr. Gisele Wolf-Klein is a family doctor at Northwell Health New York's Great Neck. She said: "It's possible that you will try to co-operate with someone with similar interests in relation to health habits. If you find someone who wants to run a marathon with you, not as a sofa, it's possible that you will continue to operate more marathons."
Researchers suggested that wealth could be another genetic feature shared by partners. If income contributes to life expectancy, rich people tend to marry other rich people, which can also increase their longevity.
By adapting the effects of such mating, Ball's team concluded that genetics contributed no more than 7%, and possibly even less.
"Exploratory discoveries reveal the complexity of longevity," Ball said. "Although it is a genetic component, this study shows that many other forces in your life have been significantly affected."
In a study, researchers imposed 54 million public family trees created by Ancestry.com subscribers, representing six billion ancestors.
From there, the team improved records until they were eliminated with human titles containing more than 400 million people, each related to a second birth or marriage.
Things were interesting when researchers began to search only for married people. They found that brothers and sisters and first cousins had similar lifetimes, although they were not blood relatives and usually do not live under one roof.
The following analysis showed that life-span factors are generally very similar. People choose people who share values that either shorten or lengthen longevity, researchers said.
The conclusions were published in the journal Genetics.
"I think it's a very optimistic and positive report for us," said Wolf-Klein, who was not involved in the study.
"It outlines something that is becoming increasingly clear for all of us – we have some control over who we are and what we are becoming," she added. "Regardless of your genetics, if you enjoy good nutrition, good physical activity, healthy habits, you can overcome some genetic predispositions."
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