Do our genes determine how old we get?

Everyone's genetic predisposition has an influence on the ageing process and thus on personal life expectancy. Comparing the lifespans of identical human twins, the influence of genes can be estimated at around 10-15% [Melzer et al. 2020]. Individual lifestyle and external influences play a much more important role in ageing than genes.

In some model organisms, genes are known to have a direct effect on life expectancy. In the worm Caenorhabditis elegans and in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, the inactivation of certain genes even leads to a doubling of life expectancy [Piper & Partridge 2018, Tissenbaum 2015]. However, the fact that such life-extending gene mutations have not become widespread in nature suggests that the negative effects of the gene mutations outweigh the benefits of longevity.

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