London: The secret behind living to a ripe old age may have nothing to do with what you eat, how much exercise you get, or whether you smoke or drink. It may be programmed into the genes of certain lucky individuals, according to a new study.
A study of hundreds of centenarians revealed they were just as likely to have vices as other people – and in some cases they indulged in them more.
Almost 500 men and women aged between 95 and 109 were asked about how they had lived their lives for the study.
Those quizzed were Ashkenazi Jews, whose relatively recent descent from small founder groups means there is less variation in their genes than in the general population, making it easier to spot the effects of genetics.
The results were then compared with the answers of a second group who were born around the same time but had normal lifespans.
If lifestyle was more important than genetics, the results would have shown the centenarians to be less likely to smoke than the others and have led healthier lives. But this was far from the case.
The long-lived men and women were no more likely to have dieted than the others and were more likely to have smoked and drunk.
“This study suggests centenarians may possess additional longevity genes that help to buffer them against the harmful effects of an unhealthy lifestyle,” the Daily Mail quoted researcher Nir Barzilai, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, as saying.
The study has been published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.