The findings from a study out of the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Germany “suggest that the better your body is at regulating iron levels, the longer you are likely to live.”
Researchers looked at a large dataset and studied the individual’s parents’ lifespan, predicted longevity, and years spent in good health, and found ten genetic markers in common. They found the genes are related to heart health and metabolizing iron in the blood.
The dietary effect iron (think: red meat) has on overall longevity isn’t clear. It seems there’s a sweet spot of iron since low levels cause anemia and high levels cause liver problems. The genetic information just relates to how well bodies can stay within that range.
Turning this into a story, what if advances in understanding genetics allow humans to live to 150 (or more)?
Vastly extended lifespans are on the horizon, and many believe it will happen within our lifetimes (for example, they discussed this on the Tim Ferriss podcast interview with Chip Wilson).
Going meta, the story could be about an author who finds out they have the genetic predisposition for living well past 100. He investigates his relationships, his career, and investments. His logic? If he’s going to live a long time, he might as well work his ass off in the beginning so he can relax for the back half.
A contrast to this worldview can arrive via a best friend or partner. Knowing they’ll live for years to come, they prioritize enjoying themselves at all times.
There would be alternating chapters about a chunk of their lives, separated by encounters every decade or so. Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa has a similar structure—the protagonist encounters his beloved at different points in their lives, each time finding his girl changed from the time before.
The conflict towards the end could be another discovery that adds another fifty years to their expected lives. The author could decide to pursue another career, and their mirror character would choose further debauchery (inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde).
The ending could see the author choosing cryogenic freezing near his expected age of death, hoping to awaken to a vastly extended lifespan. The mirror character chooses suicide, treating the death as a blessing—not unlike many vampire stories where they grow tired of existence.
It’s left to the reader to decide which life course is more appropriate.