Names. They can have a huge impact on your life, particularly when your name is unusual or odd. I’m sure you have no doubt that our staff has seen many crazy names over the years in the business of DNA Testing. While we’d love to share our favorites, we cannot dishonor client confidentiality. Instead, below is some interesting research on the types of names that might just indicate how your parents “vote” on your name.
Based on research from BabyNameWizard.com, it appears that there is a big divide on the style of names chosen in blue states and red states. Laura Wattenberg founder of BabyNameWizard.com says that more progressive communities, tend to favor more old-fashioned names. Parents in more conservative areas come up with names that are more creative or androgynous. What do you think? To see more on this go to Baby Names: The Latest Partisan Divide?
Written by Briana R.
Researchers may have discovered a genetic equivalent of the Fountain of Youth hidden in the DNA of centenarians.
Only 1 in 6,000 people reaches the century mark and just 1 in 7 million lives to be a supercentenarian (someone who is 110 or older). A new study, published online in Science, suggests that more people may have the right genetic stuff for extreme longevity.
At first, the team identified only 33 SNPs found more often in people aged 90 to 114 years but not in a control group made up of people who will presumably live an average lifespan. Thomas Perls, a geriatrician at Boston University School of Medicine who coauthored the new study, the researchers felt that they were still missing part of the story.
Biostatistician Paola Sebastiani of the Boston University School of Public Health devised a different statistical method to identify additional SNPs that would improve the team’s ability to predict longevity. The team tested their predictions on a separate group of centenarians and controls. With the 150 SNPs, the researchers could correctly predict who was a centenarian 77 percent of the time.
“77 percent is a very high accuracy for a genetic model, which means that the traits that we are looking at have a very strong genetic base,” Sebastiani says. On the other hand, the 150 SNPs can’t explain why the remaining 23 percent of centenarians in the study have reached such ripe old ages. It could mean that those people have other, rare genetic variants or lifestyles responsible for their longevity or some combination of the two, she says.
Extrapolating these results to try to predict how long the average person will live would be a mistake, says Nicholas Schork, a statistical geneticist at the Scripps Translational Science Institute and the Scripps Research Institute, both in La Jolla, Calif. “They’ve identified markers for something, but what that something is remains a mystery,” Schork says. How the combination of genetic markers work together to extend health and life “is the zillion-dollar question.”
Don’t expect the genetic data to lead to a Methuselah pill, Perls says. “I look at the complexity of this puzzle and feel very strongly that this will not lead to treatments that will get a lot of people to become centenarians,” he says. But the research could conceivably lead to treatments that delay diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Supercentenarians (someone who is 110 or older) had nearly all of the longevity markers. But most of the over-100 crowd carried different combinations of SNPs that fell into one or more of 19 different genetic profiles. These results indicate that there are many different genetic combinations to longevity and that many different biological processes are involved, Sebastiani says.
The researchers had expected that centenarians would lack disease-associated variants, but that isn’t the case. Some of the genetic profiles correlated with extreme delays in the onset of diseases such as dementia, heart disease or cancer. Others seem to allow centenarians to withstand the effects of such diseases.
About 15 percent of people in the general population may actually have what it takes genetically to reach 100, says Perls. “If they’re not hit by a bus, if they’re not in a war, if they haven’t had some other accident happen, maybe they get to fulfill that,” he says. “Now, a bunch of those people may also need to not smoke and not be obese and a number of important lifestyle factors as well.”
Sebastiani says, “One can conjecture that genetically we’re built to live longer,” and longer life expectancies associated with improved public health measures seem to bear that out.
Other studies have shown that genetics account for only 20 percent to 30 percent of a person’s chances of living beyond age 85. Environmental factors, including lifestyle choices such as diet, smoking and exercise habits, are still the most important determinants of longevity.