The key to a longer life can be down to one simple gene
The Human Genome is unlocking all sorts of age-old mysteries and throwing up surprises on a very fast basis as scientists untangle the intricate strands of DNA contained in our bodies.
One of the most popular research forays has been into that of human longevity. Last month we learned that scientists halted the aging process in mice livers by stopping the buildup of harmful proteins in the organ’s cell. In even bigger news today, we learn that scientists have found the longevity gene. Two excerpts from the article:
FOR the first time researchers have identified a human gene firmly linked to ageing and longevity. People with a specific form of a gene are likely to live longer, healthier lives than those without it.
“What this article really emphasizes is what we all know anyway – if you want to live a long and healthy life, choose your parents carefully,” commented medical geneticist Bob Williamson, dean of Melbourne University’s Faculty of Medicine.
Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, so is directly linked to a range of biological conditions such as carbohydrate metabolic which are indirectly associated with health and, thus, ageing.
Their findings – reported overnight in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – help explain the “Winston Churchill paradox”.
That is, that some people live long, healthy lives despite smoking, drinking and other behaviours known to cause life-threatening – and shortening – disorders like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Because of the complex role of insulin, the finding may also be the link between the ageing affects of cell and DNA-damaging “free radicals”, by-products of normal metabolism, and alow calorie diet which lowers the metabolic rate.