As medical researchers close in on the "longevity gene," an online quiz lets you get a read on your own expected life span.
Live long and prosper, dear readers. That Vulcan greeting from Star Trek has always been one of my favorites. You’re basically telling a person that you would like them to live a long time and be rich too, though I suspect the Vulcan definition of “prosper” to be a bit more enlightened than that.
But how long will you live? Everyone wants long life, right? Why else would we eat fiber, exercise on treadmills and refrain from all the fun stuff in life? At least now we can have an idea of how long we are supposed to live, from a genetic standpoint anyway. A recent study by the Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine and the Boston Medical Center have located the genes responsible for long life by examining people who have lived for a very long time, that is, those who get to be 100 years old or more. They’re still putting all the data together, but they say that doctors will soon be able to tell with 77 percent certainty whether or not you will live to be 100 years old, or fall by the wayside long before that.
They caution that environmental factors still have a lot to do with life expectancy, as does luck. Someone genetically predisposed to make it to 100could get squished by a bus just as easily as someone with genes that should only carry them to 50 or so. And if you’re intent on killing yourself with cigarettes or a high-fat diet, well, there is only so much your base genetic programming can do about that.
While we wait for our doctors to give us the “how long will you live blood test,” I thought it might be fun to see if we could find out for ourselves. I did a lot of research and found a very fun online quiz from the University of Pennsylvania that seems to get pretty close, based on medical history, family history, your environment and habits. When you finish, it shows you how long you should live and what factors contribute to that. Some of them make a lot of sense, while a few struck me as odd.
For example, while I did pretty well with a life expectancy of 83.54 years, there are a few things I can do to expand that. Not driving could increase my life by a paltry .03 years, so I think I’ll keep my car for now. Eliminating job stress could add another .19 years, but I want to express to my bosses that I really love my job and would gladly sacrifice about three months of my life for it. (Wonder if that’s worth a raise?) Getting rid of all sexual partners for me might add .34 years of life, but I think I’ll leave that one alone too. Sleeping more is the biggest thing I could try, adding over two years to my life if I can get a good seven hours in each night. Then again, I wonder if it’s worth it, given that most of that time would be spent sleeping.
If you like, let me know in the comments section how you do and compare it to my 83.54 years. That way I’ll know if I should invite you to my octogenarian party or not. Oddly enough, drinking more alcohol could apparently help me live an extra half a year. Now that’s what I call a health plan we can all believe in. Sláinte!
NEXT STORY: Obama makes $795M in broadband grants