No one can determine with any accuracy specifically when we will die, but a new study has found that a particular gene variation — the same one that seems to determine if you are a morning person or not — is an uncanny predictor of what time of the day you will die.
A group of scientists studying the biological clock made this discovery regarding a specific gene with three different variants of nucleotides — the four basic building blocks of DNA, guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine. The variants found in this gene were adenine-adenine (A-A), adenine-guanine (A-G) and guanine-guanine (G-G).
"This particular genotype affects the sleep-wake pattern of virtually everyone walking around," said Dr. Clifford Saper, chief of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, according to Huffington Post. "And it is a fairly profound effect so that the people who have the A-A genotype wake up about an hour earlier than the people who have the G-G genotype, and the A-Gs wake up almost exactly in the middle."
At the same time, the scientists found that of the 1200 older participants in the study, those with the A-A or A-G genotype (36% and 48% of the participants, respectively) tended to die just before 11 a.m., and those with the G-G genotype (16% of the participants) typically died about 7 hours later than that, around 6 p.m.
"So there is really a gene that predicts the time of day that you'll die. Not the date, fortunately, but the time of day," Saper said.
Andrew Lim, the lead author of the study, who works at the Department of Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center said: "The internal 'biological clock' regulates many aspects of human biology and behaviour. It also influences the timing of acute medical events like stroke and heart attack."
According to the study, published in Annals of Neurology, this discovery could lead to changes in how we schedule shift work, medical treatments and patient monitoring.