People who live long may simply be genetically gifted, a new study revealed. The study found that many nonagenarians smoke and don't exercise and overwhelmingly suggested that long life is enabled by genetic factors, not lifestyle choices,
Researchers at Yeshiva University's Albert Einstein School of Medicine evaluated 477 Ashkenazi Jews, a genetically consistent sample, aged 95 to 109. This data was then compared with data of 3,000 deceased individuals who died at a younger age and had participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. These people answered questions about their lifestyle choice when they were about 70 years old.
Average body mass index and proportions of overweight and obese individuals were similar among the groups, researchers said. Smoking was slightly higher in the group who did not live long but researchers discovered that 60 percent of the long-living men had smoked during their lifetimes.
The proportion of individuals who drank alcohol regularly was also similar. Ironically, those who exercised regularly lived shorter lives.
"My population is as bad as every population," director of the ongoing Longevity Gene Project and the paper's lead author Dr. Nir Barzilai told the HuffPost. "They haven't listened to the doctor either," she added.
Barzilai said that the study is consistent with the predominant belief that "longevity genes" determine who will live to be old and who will not. Barzilai also said that the protein CETP, which controls good cholesterol, seemingly protects against age-related health problems like cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease.
Barzilai warned that the findings should not be seen as a license to drink, smoke, and get fat. Barzilai told the HuffPost that having longevity in your family does not mean that you have inherited it.