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Genes Account for 30 Percent of Longevity

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NEW YORK, Jun 23, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- U.S. doctors say genes account for about 30 percent of a person's longevity, showing healthy lifestyles are not the only determinant of long life.

Researchers at the International Longevity Center-USA, an affiliate of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, said making healthy life choices -- including regular exercise, a good diet and limiting alcohol consumption -- is the best way to increase longevity, but having good genes also helps.

"Until recently, why certain individuals live longer than others has been a mystery to scientists," Dr. Robert N. Butler, president and chief executive officer of the ILC-USA said in a statement. "As we begin to learn more about genetics, we see that there perhaps are certain genes that enable people to cope better with stress, react better to hormones and possibly regulate the rate of aging."

The latest census shows there are approximately 50,000 centenarians living in the United States, and the average life expectancy has increased to 77.2 years, up 30 more years from a century ago.

Scientists are now beginning to study the common genes present in long-lived individuals, hoping to identify genetic "lottery winners" in the future.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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