Elvis Presley may have died because of genetic conditions that made him prone to obesity and heart disease – rather than his lifestyle, according to a new Channel 4 commissioned documentary.
The Channel 4 programme called ‘Dead Famous DNA’ analysed samples of hair said to have belonged to the deceased singer and found genes linked to several serious health conditions.
The analysis found genes associated obesity and heart disease, migraines and glaucoma.
Elvis Presley, who died on August 16, 1977 at the age of 42, is known to have had high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat and poor eyesight.
He is also known to have had suffered from headaches, fatigue and fainting and in later life as his weight increased and health failed.
His fondness for junk food and lack of physical exercise was blamed by many for his early death.
Dr Stephen Kingsmore, director of the Centre for Paediatric Genomic Medicine at the Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, analysed the hair sample for the Channel 4 programme and said the findings indicated this might not be the full story.
“There had been so much speculation about cause of death, and so much ill spoken of his lifestyle, and we had this intriguing finding that possibly Elvis had a medical illness, and all of the stuff about how he killed himself with his lifestyle might have been very unfair,” he said.
Presenter Mark Evans said this might have been his “genetic destiny”.
“For years, Elvis has been blamed for his own death, for overeating or overdosing on drugs,” he said.
“Both of these addictions wouldn’t have helped. But it seemed Elvis had a flaw in his DNA.”
Mr Evans said that they were “very, very confident” that the sample of hair had come from the singer, after spending three years doing their research.
“I’m massively confident that is Elvis’ DNA but I can’t prove it,” he said. “I can’t tell you 100% that is Elvis’ DNA. That’s not possible.”
The programme was broadcast at 9pm on Wednesday, 26 March, also attempted to analyse the DNA of people such as Adolf Hitler, Charles Darwin, Napoleon, John F Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando and King George III.