While it’s long been believed that lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise and smoking are the key to determining how long you live, new research suggests your DNA is more important. The research, The association between intelligence and lifespan is mostly genetic studied 1407 sets of twins to determine whether genes contributed to a person’s lifespan.
Researchers have known for more than 10 years that brighter people live longer, but the general view had been that smarter people live more protected lives and avoid jobs that could reduce their lifespan resulting in a longer life.
This new study used twins as the test cases because they share a common upbringing, removing a lot of the environmental variables that occur when studying individuals. Identical twins have the same genes, whereas non-identical twins don’t, which means they make for a more suitable test case.
The study found that, as expected, there was no association between lifespan and intelligence for identical twins, but it did discover a connection for non-identical twins, providing the study with the results it initially set out to prove.
The study suggests that 20–30 per cent of the variation in lifespan is due to genetics, with environmental factors accounting for the rest.
Read more at The Guardian
Genes have been proven to be the most important factor in determining your lifespan, but lifestyle factors that you can control play a significant role as well. The study of the association between intelligence and lifespan suggests that 20–30 per cent of the variation in a person’s lifespan is because of their genetic make up, leaving 70–80 per cent to lifestyle choices such as how often you exercise, whether you smoke or drink, what you eat and various other choices.
The study’s co-author Dr Rosalind Arden warned that we need to be humble with respect to our interpretation of the results. “It’s scientifically interesting that intelligence is mostly genetic and it has implications for dementia and ageing. But you can’t extrapolate to individuals. Intelligence may be largely inherited, but how long you live depends on many factors and intelligence is only a small part. So if you have five kids who are all different, you can’t say that one will live to 90 but the other only until 40 because they perform differently in cognitive tests,” said Dr Arden.
What do you think? Do you believe intelligence does have a significant influence on how long a person lives? Or are you more fatalistic, believing it is all a matter of luck? What lifestyle choices have you made to improve your standard of living to improve your lifespan?