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Isolating the Human Longevity Gene (So We Can Abuse the Crap Out of It)

The Japanese are famous for one thing: Disturbing pornography.The Japanese are famous for one thing: Disturbing pornography.

Well, that and the fact that they age wonderfully. They tend to live longer, show less mental and physical decline, and use their active golden years to teach more New Jersey kids karate through household chores than any other race. Part of this could be chalked up to lifestyle differences: they're not all motoring about on Rascal scooters loaded down with three hundred pounds of Bacon Ranchurrito fat — they stay active later in life, and eat much healthier than other countries, but those aren't the only factors. Studies have actually found that the Japanese are genetically biased towards a longer lifespan. Long ago, scientists had determined that a gene called FOXO3A was much more present in the extremely elderly Japanese, and this was likely responsible for their famously slow aging process.

Scientists have recently revisited that study, however, and this time they did it without the baffling bias that Japanese just mysteriously live forever through some kind of racially inherent magic; this time they performed the research on people of American and European ancestry as well. Guess what they found? Our extremely long-lived also possess the exact same gene! There's a common genetic explanation for why the extremely elderly, across all races and cultures, live as long as they do. But if a rare, select few have this longevity gene regardless of race, then why do the Japanese specifically have much higher percentages of extremely old senior citizens?

Let's face, it probably really is the diet and lifestyle.

So, unless you're willing to commit to morning calisthenics and cold octopus, you are sadly going to die earlier.So, unless you're willing to commit to morning calisthenics and cold octopus, you are sadly going to die earlier. But look on the bright side: you'll probably do so while popping sweet-ass wheelies on your fat-scooter, horking down some delicious combination of Ranch Dressing, bacon, cheddar, more bacon, and then Ranch again; it's a matter of quality over quantity, I guess is what I'm saying here.

So what was the point of explaining all this? Well, manipulating genetics is very possible; we do it every day. The hardest part of that manipulation is isolating the gene responsible for the desired behavior, and we've not only found it, but already know it's compatible with all humans, regardless of race. Now it's just a matter of figuring out a way to introduce FOXO3A to the human body, and everybody can live longer and healthier lives, even it's only more time we can use to spiral into infirmity on our Hover-Rounds, covered in Ham Kickers and Jumpin' Jack Cheesefood Sauce.

But what's the point of living longer if we're just going to decay? The worst part about getting old is... being old. Who wants to live forever if it's not in better shape? Nobody! Which is why we're well on our way to fixing that, too...

÷ ÷ ÷

Robert Brockway is an editor and columnist for Cracked.com, and the author of Everything Is Going to Kill Everybody. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his fiancee, Meagan Kennedy, and their two dogs, Detectives Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh. He has been known, on occasion, to have a mustache.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Everything Is Going to Kill... Used Trade Paper $7.95

Robert Brockway is the author of Everything Is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead

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