Living a healthy life and dying as old as possible has been the goal of pretty much everyone ever since the advent of medicine made such a thing possible. Well, medicine made it mostly possible, as there are still diseases that can kill you no matter how safe you may try to play it.
But why? This question has bothered doctors for ages. If you do everything right, why can you still fall victim to a whole array of horrible diseases? Well, the answer to that hides deep within the very building blocks of our existence – it’s all in the genes.
And since there are so many different genes, each of them related to a different condition, it’s incredibly difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of multiple illnesses. So, a team of researchers decided that since it’s nearly impossible to approach the situation like that, they’ll try the opposite.
And this is how the study about which we’re going to talk today appeared, as the researchers instead looked at healthy old people in order to determine the genes that kept them healthy. Even though it yielded some pretty interesting results, the situation remains the same – there are particular genes for healthy aging.
Well, when the scientists say that there are particular genes for healthy aging what they mean to say is that there are particular genes keeping you safe from each different condition. There isn’t a universal set of genes that keep you healthy in your old age… or at least they haven’t found it yet.
Dr. Eric Topol, lead researcher of the study and director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, looked over the data of 1,354 Wellderly (people older than 80 that suffered from no chronic diseases and were on no medication for chronic illness) and sequenced the DNA of 511 of them over eight years. Then, the team compared the DNA to that of regular, sickly elderly people.
Topol had this to say about the whole situation:
The healthy aging really seems to be a separate group that stays free of chronic disease versus the man-made long-lived person who may have a heavy chronic disease burden but is being kept alive with modern medicine. We thought there would be a lot of overlap, but there wasn’t.
Yeah, it turns out that the whole study was mistaken, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t learned anything from the experiment. In fact we have learned quite a lot. There is no specific gene for healthy aging, but there are particular genes that protect you each elderly affliction with which you might be struck.
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