Genetics & Longevity: Behavior Is More Important Than Genes When It Comes to Lifespan

Changing lifestyle behaviors is far more important to longevity than genetics. HealthyCapital data shows the correlation between employers encouraging healthier behaviors, and the opportunity to increase longevity and reduce healthcare expenses.

Genes Determine Less than 7% of Longevity

How much does Genetics effect Longevity?  New research shows that genes determine less than 7% of overall expected longevity. This is opposed to previous research, which indicated that about 25% of the variation in human longevity is due to genetic factors.

40% of Longevity is Related to Behavior

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 40% of our expected lifespan is based on behavioral factors. Taking steps to limit salt intake, increase exercise, change diets, manage alcohol consumption or take prescribed medications are just some of the ways in which changes to behavior can significantly impact longevity.

The Impact of Social & Environmental, Health-Related Factors on Longevity

Social and environmental factors (20%) come from household factors. These include, where you live, the quality of water and resources, and how much stress you deal with day to day. Healthcare, on the other hand, accounts for half of that, 10%. Healthcare could include access to doctors, how often you get checkups or even how you monitor your possible and inheritable traits, like blood pressure or high cholesterol. Conditions like blood pressure and high cholesterol can be managed with behavioral modification and help from a physician.

Healthier Lifestyles Increase Longevity & Reduce Healthcare Costs

Of the 50% of Americans diagnosed with a chronic condition, 50% stops taking their medication as prescribed after six months. Following treatment protocols will increase longevity and reduce annual healthcare expenses.  Exercise and dietary changes can add 4 years to the lifespan of a 50-year-old woman with type 2 diabetes and annually, pre-retirement, save an average of $2,790.

The Jeans You Wear are More Important Than the Genes You Inherited

When it comes to lifespan, the jeans you wear may play a larger role than the genes you inherited.  Losing weight is just one of the potential keys to increasing health and wealth.  Today, 72% percent of adults aged 20 and over are either overweight or obese.  Other than being a danger to physical and mental health, Obesity can be linked to a range of conditions including high blood pressure and diabetes.  A 50-year-old male, who is 50 lbs. overweight will on average live a year less than their healthy-counterpart and spend almost $400 a year more for healthcare before retirement.

Adult Genes Cannot Change (Yet), But Health Can 

Understanding genetic risk is important for those with inherited conditions.  It provides the opportunity to screen for conditions, but genes cannot yet be changed.  And even if they could be, it’s clear that, for most, our behaviors have a far greater impact on longevity.  As such, member employees have the ability to live longer and save money by adopting – often relatively simple – lifestyle changes.

The Link Between Health & Longevity 

The link between health and longevity is not new. But, the level of insights possible from the database of 500 million healthcare claims is. Thus, HealthyCapital draws upon its database of actuarial data to calculate the longevity and financial benefits of health-related behaviors.

Our data reveals the direct connection between behavioral choices and outcomes.  By highlighting additional years of life, realized through better choices and savings. HealthyCapital provides a powerful tool for companies and third-party administrators to incentivize improved wellness and savings for healthier retirements.

To find out more read our white paper: Building Wealth Through Wellness