Can genetics determine lifespan?


Genetics can influence lifespan, but they are generally not deterministic for most individuals until very later in life. This means that while certain specific genetic mutations can determine diseases that directly impact lifespan, these are quite rare. For the majority of people, genes may increase susceptibility to diseases or affect the probability of certain health outcomes, but they do not outright determine how long someone will live. As people reach very advanced ages (e.g., beyond 85 years), genetics start to play a more significant role in determining lifespan. However, even then, lifestyle choices and environmental factors can significantly impact both lifespan and health span, the period of life spent in good health 1 2.

For a practical perspective, while genetics set a baseline, lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, and avoiding harmful habits like smoking play a substantial role in extending both lifespan and health span. There are also technological advancements that may in future allow for more direct interventions in genetic factors that influence aging 2 3.

Genes and Lifespan

Discover how genes influence our lifespan and why they may not be as deterministic as we think. Peter Attia, M.D. explains the role of genes in diseases and the impact of behavior changes on susceptibility. Explore the truth behind the relationship between genes and lifespan.

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The Science of Longevity | Dr. Peter Attia