For some time now, medical science has been telling us that if you want to live well into your 90s and beyond
, you need to follow certain guidelines. Basically, you should maintain a healthy diet, get regular exercise, drink only in moderation, and most importantly, don’t smoke. However, a new study shows that many nonagenarians are rather sedentary, enjoy their cocktails, and smoke like a chimney. What’s up with that?
Well, the findings of the new study seem to indicate that exceptional longevity may be more independent of lifestyle than previously believed. It appears that the key to longevity lies in your genes and not your behavior
.Searching for the key.
The study was conducted at Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein School of Medicine. Researchers examined 477 Ashkenazi Jews age 95 to 109 searching for clues as to why they’ve enjoyed such longevity. The data they gathered was compared to the data sample of approximately 3000 people who died at a younger age. These people had participated in the National Health and Nutritional Examination survey answering lifestyle questions when they were 70 years old.
The average body mass index (BMI) was similar among both groups. So was the rate of obesity. Smoking was a little higher in the non-centenarian group but 60% of the men who lived to be 90 to 95 had smoked at some point in their life. Daily consumption of alcohol was similar to both groups. Interestingly enough, the centenarians who did not get regular exercise lived longer than their counterparts.
Experts argue that this study delivers sufficient proof that the so-called “longevity genes” determine who lives to be 100 and who doesn’t. One such gene is called CETP, which helps control HDL, or good cholesterol
. This CETP protein helps protect people against certain age-related health problems such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Presently, more research is going on to see if a new drug could mimic these gene mutations and prevent many of the diseases associated with aging.Does this mean it’s okay to party like a rock star?
One of the fears is that people may think the new findings give free license to engage in smoking, drinking, excessive weight gain and other risky behaviors. However, though longevity may be inheritable, you don’t know if you’ve inherited it or not! The new findings are certainly not an invitation to party like you’ll live forever.
Winifred Rossi, deputy director of the Geriatrics and Clinical Care and College Program at the National Institute on Aging says, “We’re making progress in understanding how really long-lived people differ and don’t differ from the general population. But it is extremely complex. We don’t understand what it is that is contributing to longevity. It could be something genetic interacting with something else genetic. It could be genetic and lifestyle factors interacting. It probably is a little bit of all of that.”
The bottom line is that while you may be genetically predisposed to living well into your 90s, the joy of living to a ripe old age is greatly diminished if you’re plagued with health problems. Regardless of what’s in your genes, perhaps the smartest thing to do is to maintain a healthy lifestyle, get plenty of exercise, plenty of sleep
, refrain from smoking, and stimulate your mind . . . all in the hope of enjoying a long healthy life.