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Longevity Decoded

Research from a group at the School of Public Health at Boston University, lead by Paola Sebastiani, shows that genetic data can predict exceptional longevity with 77 percent accuracy rate without knowledge of any other risk factor. In the largest investigation yet conducted into the genetics of extreme old age, the team analysed DNA from more than 1,000 people aged between 95 and 119 to look for genetic markers which were not present in those who live an average life span.

The study, published in Science in July 2010, yielded 150 markers correlated with long life. Many sequences were associated with mental alertness, insulin regulation and DNA stability, confirming results from smaller studies and suggesting areas for life-prolonging research. However they note this prediction is not perfect, and although it may improve with better knowledge of the variations in the human genome, its limitations confirm that environmental and lifestyle factors also contribute in important ways to the ability of humans to survive to very old ages.

According to the Australian Census at 2006 there were 3,159 people, aged 100 or over. Using Financial Demographics’ population projections and continued mortality improvement factors developed by the Australian Government Actuary, we estimate this figure will increase to 37,000 by 2050.

Posted Sunday, 18 July 2010

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