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Genes are key factor in ageing

THE SECRET of keeping your mental faculties in old age lies in your genes, according to new research.

But, to a limited extent, people can protect themselves from mental deterioration by moderate physical exercise, doing things that make them happy, and not being overweight, according to Professor Patrick Rabbitt of Manchester University.

"There is not a single gene for ageing; we are looking at many contributory genetic effects," said Professor Rabbitt, who presented the results of an 18-year study to the British Psychological Society conference in Bath yesterday.

His findings derive from a survey of 6,400 people from Manchester and Newcastle upon Tyne. Their genes were found to be the biggest single determinant in the ageing process.