Healthy lifestyle can counteract genetics

Skærmbillede 2024-04-30 095152
Translate from : Sund livsstil kan modvirke genetik
Healthy lifestyle can counteract genetic risk of premature death by 62%, according to new research. Regardless of genetic risk, unhealthy lifestyles are associated with early death.

Although your genetics put you at greater risk of early death, a healthy lifestyle can significantly combat it, according to a new study. It may not be a huge surprise, but there is important knowledge to be gained after all. The risk can be reduced by up to 62% in people with a genetic predisposition, said lead author Dr. Xue Li, Dean of the School of Public Health at Zhejian University School of Medicine in China.

Many studies have shown the link between a healthy lifestyle and longevity, and others have emphasized the genetic component of longevity. But the report, published Monday in the journal BMJ Evidence Based Medicine, examined how the two elements interact.

With data from over 350,000 people and information about their genetics, education, socioeconomic status and medical history, this study had a strong methodology, said Dr. Aladdin Shadyab, associate professor of public health and medicine at the University of California San Diego. He was not involved in the research.


The test group consisted of people of European descent, so it can only be applied to other populations to a limited extent, Shadyab added. The researchers gave each person a polygenetic risk score, which is a score that summarizes the presence of multiple genes that affect a person's lifespan, according to the study. Study participants were also given a score based on how well they adhered to healthy lifestyle principles, and were then followed for an average of 13 years to see if they had a short, medium or long lifespan.

"Data showed that everyone, regardless of their genetic risks, was 78% more likely to die early if they had an unhealthy lifestyle. And people with both a genetic risk for short life and an unhealthy lifestyle were twice as likely to die early as those without genetic risk and healthier lifestyle," said Li, who is also director of the National Institute for Data Science in Health and Medicine of Zhejiang University. People at genetic risk could extend their lifespan by up to 5.5 years with a healthy lifestyle, the data showed.

The study was observational, meaning it could establish associations but not say with certainty that the behaviors directly caused the changes in lifespan. But the researchers were able to identify four factors that were associated with the greatest influence on the risk of early death. "The study identified an optimal lifestyle combination with four lifestyle factors, no current smoking, regular physical activity, adequate sleep duration, and a healthy diet that offered better benefits for extending human lifespan," Li said.


Adequate sleep was defined in the study as seven to eight hours of sleep per night. The current physical activity guidelines for Americans recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity and two days of strength training per week for adults. Moderate alcohol consumption in the United States is defined as a limit of two drinks per day for adult men and one drink per day for adult women, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For a healthier, longer life, many studies have shown support for the Mediterranean diet, an eating style that focuses on plant-based cooking with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and olive oil. Red meat is used sparingly. When it comes to getting enough sleep, if you can't seem to get those seven or eight hours of sleep, try establishing a sleep routine, get out of bed when you can't sleep, and keep the bedroom cool, dark and free of electronics.

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