Secrets to a long life may lie with long-lived smokers, but researchers warn that's not a reason to start the habit - or continue it.
Secrets of longevity may lie in long-lived smokers with extraordinary gene variants
【LWBS 2015 10 02 A】(SpringRain edited from Washington Post)
Scientists are looking at the genes of long lived smokers for clues about longevity.
Smoking is known to be one of the worst things you can do to your body, with drastic consequences on life span and the progression of disease. On average, smokers' life expectancy is 10 years less than non-smokers. The long-lived smokers are the exception and the researchers said that their findings suggest that they may be a "biologically distinct group" that is endowed with genetic variants that allow them to respond differently to exposure.
"There is evidence that these genes may facilitate lifespan extension by increasing cellular maintenance and repair," Levine said.
The study, which was published Wednesday in the Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences & Medical Sciences, involved participants of the longitudinal Health and Retirement Study in the United States. The researchers compared 90 participants who were smokers and lived to past 80, with 730 people who were smokers and lived to less than 70 years of age.
They found that those in the age 80-plus group had similar physiological function as measured by inflammation, blood pressure and immune function as non-smokers in their age group. Smokers who died at a younger age had had worse physiological function than non-smoking counterparts at the time they were measured.
Levine told The Washington Post that the work is important because "the more we know about why we age, the more equipped we will be to intervene."
"Aging is an extremely complex process, and I think we are only beginning to uncover some of the mechanisms that regulate it. However, it also happens to be the biggest risk factor for most of the diseases that people suffer and die from," she said.
Therefore, some people are born gene distinct, smoking can live long. But such people are in the minority, for example, there are thousands of non-smokers, hundreds short-lived smokers, but only dozens of long-lived smokers in this study.
As an ordinary person, it is best not to hope that you are the lucky few. After all, it is rare that people are born with genes powerful, so those who want to use this as an excuse for refusing to quit smoking, they should check their own genes. Because, generally say, the smoking is harmful to health has been repeatedly demonstrated, a number of studies have shown that smoking causes an average life shortened by 10 years, furthermore, it also affects the family and friends around.
In addition, with the genetic test improving and the cost decreasing, if you want to know whether you have such SNP, may wish to do a genetic testing to predict in advance.