Are genes or lifestyle key to Icelanders’ longevity?

, , | | February 17, 2016
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Tourists know Iceland for its spectacular landscape, geothermal pools and strange cuisine. But experts say the Nordic nation is special for another reason: people there live longer than almost anywhere else in the world.

Year after year, Iceland is one of the top-ranked countries for life expectancy. Its citizens survive to an average of 83, outlasting the residents of richer, better-educated and warmer corners of the globe.

A fish-heavy diet full of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids has been cited by some as a reason why so many on this glacier-topped island of 320,000 people live well into the golden age.

The home of the Blue Lagoon also has low pollution and an athletic lifestyle. The women’s champion of Crossfit is Icelandic, and the country holds eight “World’s Strongest Man” titles.

But Kari Stefansson, founder of DeCode Genetics, says the key to Icelandic staying power probably has more to do with Vikings than volcanoes.

“It is probably because of a genetic background,” said Stefansson. “I don’t think it has anything to do with the environment we live in. I don’t think it has anything to do with the clean air, the fresh water, or the fish we eat. I think it has all to do with how we select our parents.”

Stefansson said his company — which has collected genetic information on one-third of Iceland’s population — investigated the underpinnings of longevity by comparing the genes of those 90 and up to see if they were more related to each other than control groups.

Read full, original post: Genetics or Good Living? Why People in Iceland Outlast Rest of World

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