With continuous advancements in medical technology, the science of longevity has seen incredible progress in the past few decades. According to the World Health Organization, the global average life expectancy increased from 64.2 years in 1990 to 72.6 years in 2019.
The same report states that, in high-income countries, life expectancy at birth can reach up to 80 years. With ongoing research and advancements, there is a high probability that the average life expectancy will continue to rise in the future. In this article, we will explore the advances in the science of longevity, including the latest discoveries, potential future developments, and ethical considerations.
The Science of Longevity
The primary goal of longevity research is to improve the quality of life by extending the number of healthy years an individual can enjoy.
Several research areas contribute to the science of longevity, including genetics, epigenetics, stem cell research, and nutrition. Recent studies show that our lifestyle habits and environment also significantly determine our life span.
Studies show that our lifestyle habits and environment can significantly impact our lifespan. For example, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes reduces mortality risk from all causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Similarly, a study published in the British Medical Journal found that quitting smoking can add up to 10 years to a person’s life expectancy. The study also found that even those who quit smoking in their 60s can still add several years to their lifespan.
Other studies have looked at the impact of exercise on lifespan. A study published in the journal PLOS Medicine found that individuals who engaged in regular physical activity had a reduced risk of premature death from all causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Stress is also a factor that can impact lifespan. A study published in the journal ‘Science’ found that chronic stress can accelerate ageing at the cellular level by shortening telomeres. The study suggests that stress management techniques like mindfulness meditation and yoga may help slow ageing and extend lifespan.
These studies demonstrate that our lifestyle habits and environment can significantly impact our lifespan. Making healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating a nutritious diet, quitting smoking, engaging in regular physical activity, and managing stress, can help to extend our healthy years and improve our overall quality of life.
Genetic research has made significant progress in identifying the genes contributing to ageing and age-related diseases. Studies have identified several genetic variants associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, cancer, and heart disease.
Researchers are also exploring the potential of gene editing technologies, such as CRISPR, to modify genes associated with ageing and disease.
One study published in Nature Genetics found a genetic variant associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease that affects the immune system’s ability to clear beta-amyloid protein from the brain.
Beta-amyloid protein is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Another study published in the journal Nature Communications identified a genetic variant associated with an increased risk of heart disease that affects the metabolism of fats in the liver.
Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene expression without altering the underlying DNA sequence. Recent research has shown that epigenetic changes can significantly impact ageing and age-related diseases.
For example, a study published in Aging Cell found that specific epigenetic changes in the brain are associated with cognitive decline in ageing adults. Another study published in Nature Communications found that DNA methylation changes in the blood are associated with ageing and age-related diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Read the full article here.