Aging is a process inherent in life, it cannot be avoided, but on the contrary, we must learn to accept it. Understanding our genetics can provide insight into the potential risks to our health, allowing us to adopt healthy habits that contribute to a longer and fuller life.
But why do we really get old?
The scientific community still does not have a definitive explanation for the causes of aging, but recognizes this phenomenon as a multifactorial phenomenon, the product of the interaction of various elements such as lifestyle, genetics, cellular activity and the environment.
Relevant data on aging and life expectancy in Chile and worldwide
Globally, both the number of older people and life expectancy have increased. According to a United Nations report from July 2022, the proportion of people aged 65 and over in the global population is expected to rise from the current 10% to 16% in 2050. In particular, Latin America is leading the way in this process of accelerated aging throughout the world. The UN estimates that by 2050, 27.5% of the Latin American population is expected to be over 60 years of age. In Chile, this longevity trend is similar, as the percentage of people over 60 years old relative to the total population is gradually increasing. In 2022, that percentage reached 18.1% and by 2050, older people are expected to make up 32.1% of the population, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE).
Is it possible to age well?
With age, susceptibility to various diseases and conditions increases. Now there are ways to recognize these genetic predispositions. For example, with the help of a genetic test, which is a tool that allows you to analyze a person’s hereditary material to identify variations or mutations in their genes associated with a predisposition to certain diseases or health conditions. However, it is important to recognize the possibility of aging in a healthy way and develop habits that allow you to enjoy every stage of life. Some of these practices include maintaining a physical activity regimen, reducing stress, getting enough sleep, eating a nutritious diet, staying hydrated, protecting yourself from the sun, abstaining from smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, taking care of your mental health, connecting with nature, and getting annual health checks. inspections.
Interaction between genetic and environmental factors
It is estimated that the genetic contribution to aging varies depending on specific aspects of the process. In terms of life expectancy, some studies suggest that between 20% and 30% of the differences in life expectancy between people can be attributed to genetic factors. This means that genes can influence how we age and how long we live, but much of the variability in lifespan is due to environmental and lifestyle factors.
“There are epigenetic mechanisms, which are the interference of environmental and chemical stimuli into the activation and silencing of genes, that is, the way DNA is expressed without necessarily changing its genetic sequence. It’s one of the main factors in aging.”explains Ricardo di Lazzaro, physician and CEO Create.
Knowing the characteristics of DNA is possible and important for changing habits and adopting a lifestyle that prevents possible hereditary diseases, as well as reduces the negative effects of genetic inheritance and enhances the positive ones.
What can your DNA say about the future?
DNA cannot predict the future, but it can make some predictions based on certain genetic markers.
genetic test Create, the first personal genomics laboratory in Latin America, presents a unique panel on the impact of DNA on the aging process. With it, you can explore some factors and predispositions, such as:
photoaging: premature aging of the skin caused by the ultraviolet rays of the sun. This is the process by which the skin ages faster. Factors such as smoking, pollution, and prolonged sun exposure can contribute to skin aging, but genetic variants may also play a role.
Baldness: main cause of hair loss. It mainly affects people of the male biological sex. Sex hormone levels and genetic variations are associated with this condition.
Durability: In addition to habits and lifestyle, genetic factors can influence a person’s life expectancy. Variants located in certain genes can independently influence lifespan or be influenced by variants in other genes.
Telomere length: structures that protect DNA stored on chromosomes. They decrease in size with each cell renewal process, and when they become too small, they can no longer protect DNA, which affects cell division and leads to aging.
Age related macular degeneration: This is a condition that affects the part of the eye’s retina called the macula, resulting in progressive loss of vision. It is more common in people over 75 years of age. This is caused by the interaction of several factors such as light exposure, smoking, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and genetic variation.
In other panels Create On health and well-being, other genetic factors can be found that directly affect the quality of life and the aging process. For example, in a panel examining DNA-related skin characteristics such as acne risk, blemishes and wrinkles, UV sensitivity to sunlight, droopy eyelids, and antioxidant capacity. Knowing these genetic characteristics can provide more specific and personalized care for the health and appearance of the skin, delaying the harmful effects of aging.
It is important to note that these tests can be performed from anywhere, without having to go to a laboratory, as the analysis is done from a simple saliva sample. If you would like information on how to perform these tests in Chile, you can log in here.