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expert reaction to genetic study looking at lifespan, being overweight and having an education

New research published in Nature Communications examines the association between learning and staying shape and a longer lifespan.


Prof. David Melzer, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Exeter Medical School, said:

“This is a large and important study, which confirms a lot of recent work in this area.

“However, the analysis is mainly based on the lifespans of parents of middle aged volunteers who took part in UK Biobank from 2006 to 2010.  We are therefore talking about a generation of parents born in the early twentieth century, approximately between 1906 and 1940.

“Doubtless education is very important for health, but the estimates reported here are about a generation in which many people only got primary education, and few went on to higher education.

“Therefore the estimates of effect may not be relevant to our population now: an extra year of education then may have been much more important than it is now.

“A similar point can be made about obesity: modern treatments for diabetes, lowering cholesterol levels and treating high blood pressure are likely to have modified the effects reported here.”


* ‘Genome-wide meta-analysis associates HLADQA1/DRB1 and LPA and lifestyle factors with human longevity’ by Peter K. Joshi et al. is published in Nature Communications


Declared interests

None received.


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