Genetic predisposition, modifiable lifestyles, and their joint effects on human lifespan: evidence from multiple cohort studies

Zilong Bian, Lijuan Wang, Rong Fan, Jing Sun, Lili Yu, Meihong Xu, Paul R H J Timmers, Xia Shen, James F Wilson, Evropi Theodoratou, Xifeng Wu*, Xue Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the associations across genetic and lifestyle factors with lifespan.

DESIGN: A longitudinal cohort study.

SETTING: UK Biobank.

PARTICIPANTS: 353 742 adults of European ancestry, who were recruited from 2006 to 2010 and were followed up until 2021.

EXPOSURES: A polygenic risk score for lifespan with long (<lowest quintile), intermediate (quintiles 2 to 4), and short (>highest quintile) risk categories and a weighted healthy lifestyle score, including no current smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, regular physical activity, healthy body shape, adequate sleep duration, and a healthy diet, categorised into favourable, intermediate, and unfavourable lifestyles.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Lifespan defined as the date of death or the censor date minus the date of birth.

RESULTS: Of the included 353 742 participants of European ancestry with a median follow-up of 12.86 years, 24 239 death cases were identified. Participants were grouped into three genetically determined lifespan categories including long (20.1%), intermediate (60.1%), and short (19.8%), and into three lifestyle score categories including favourable (23.1%), intermediate (55.6%), and unfavourable (21.3%). The hazard ratio (HR) of death for individuals with a genetic predisposition to a short lifespan was 1.21 (95% CI 1.16 to 1.26) compared to those with a genetic predisposition to a long lifespan. The HR of death for individuals in the unfavourable lifestyle category was 1.78 (95% CI 1.71 to 1.85), compared with those in the favourable lifestyle category. Participants with a genetic predisposition to a short lifespan and an unfavourable lifestyle had 2.04 times (95% CI 1.87 to 2.22) higher rates of death compared with those with a genetic predisposition to a long lifespan and a favourable lifestyle. No multiplicative interaction was detected between the polygenic risk score of lifespan and the weighted healthy lifestyle score (p=0.10). The optimal combination of healthy lifestyles, including never smoking, regular physical activity, adequate sleep duration, and a healthy diet, was derived to decrease risk of premature death (death before 75 years).

CONCLUSION: Genetic and lifestyle factors were independently associated with lifespan. Adherence to healthy lifestyles could largely attenuate the genetic risk of a shorter lifespan or premature death. The optimal combination of healthy lifestyles could convey better benefits for a longer lifespan, regardless of genetic background.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ evidence-based medicine
Early online date29 Apr 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Apr 2024

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