A major new study by researchers at the University of Edinburgh, indicates that maintaining a healthy weight and continuing in further education, are two of the best behaviours to adopt to extend our lifespan. Data was drawn from 25 separate population studies mainly across Europe, Australia and North America. For each year spent studying beyond school, 11 months was added to lifespan. Giving up smoking and being open to new experiences also seem helpful. However, for people who are overweight, each extra kilogramme of body weight is associated with two months off their lifespan. The study identified two new DNA differences which affect lifespan: a gene linked to the immune system adds around half a year to life expectancy whilst one linked to blood cholesterol levels shortens it by around eight months.
Dr Peter Joshi, Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute, said: “Our study has estimated the causal effect of lifestyle choices. We found that, on average, smoking a pack a day reduces lifespan by seven years, whilst losing one kilogram of weight will increase your lifespan by two months.”
(Genome-wide meta-analysis associates HLA-DQA1/DRB1 and LPA and lifestyle factors with human longevity. Nature Communications, on-line 13 October 2017.)