Choose good parents -- for the genes

secrets to long life

If you have ancestors who have lived long lives, you won't automatically become a member of the Centenarian Club, but you may have one foot in the door.

While the effect of genetics on aging isn't well understood, researcher Thomas Perls of Boston University and his colleagues have reported that living to age 100 and beyond seems to be linked to genetic factors. The group reports that about 20 to 30 percent of variation in survival to an age of about 85 years is determined by genetics. Perls holds that about 13 percent of centenarians appear to escape the diseases of aging. And some people have managed to live to advanced ages despite very poor health habits, defying predictions of life insurance actuaries.

One high-profile senior who arguably is the product of good genes is Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth. Already the oldest monarch in her nation's history, the 85-year-old royal reached another milestone recently when her monarchy became England's second-longest. She took the throne in 1952. The Queen's own mother lived to be 101.

In addition to good genes, one of the best things you can inherit from your parents is a healthy lifestyle. You may be born with a advantageous genetic code, but it won't do you any good if you destroy your body with a poor diet and lack of exercise.

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