Tag Archives: Misao Okawa

Aging: You Can Hurry it, but You Can’t Slow it

Nothing in gerontology comes close to fulfilling the promise of a dramatically extended life span — despite bold claims to the contrary.
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“I have little doubt that gerontologists will eventually find a way to avoid, or more likely, delay, the unpleasantries of extended life,” says S. Jay Olshansky, author of “The Quest for Immortality: Science at the Frontiers of Aging.” But they’re not there yet.

For now, what researchers are finding is that, although we can certainly accelerate the aging process, we can’t stop it.

People don’t like to accept that our life spans are generally preset by genetics. “The only control we have over our life span is to shorten it,” says Olshansky, an epidemiology professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. We do this by being sedentary, smoking, gaining weight and abusing drugs.

Olshansky adds: “If we do everything right, the best we can do is live out our potential with as little age-related disease and disability as possible.”

In the United States today the average life span for women is 80 and for men it’s 75. Of the planet’s current 6.5 billion inhabitants, no more than 25 people are older than 110. Jeanne Calment of Arles, France, who died in 1997 at age 122 1/2 , set the record for the greatest documented age reached by any human.

Researchers who study centenarians (people who live to 100) and super centenarians (those who live beyond 110) appreciate how rare it is to attain that age. They also understand how ridiculous it is to claim that people alive today can expect to live to age 125, which is what some longevity proponents claim is achievable.

“Saying that is inconceivably irresponsible,” says Tom Perls, a geriatrician and director of the New England Centenarian Study. That said, he does believe we can borrow from the successes, if not the genes, of people who’ve lived to be 100. “I wouldn’t be devoting my life to studying centenarians if I didn’t think something would come of it.”

There isn’t a cure for aging because it isn’t a disease, says Laurence Rubenstein, geriatrician at UCLA Medical Center. “It’s a natural and complex process that involves every system in the body.” That individuals age unevenly at vastly different rates suggests that genes, lifestyle and disease can all affect the rate of aging.

Our risk of dying increases as we get older because more can go wrong, says Olshanksy, citing what those in the field call increased competitive risks. “If you do an autopsy on an 85-year-old who died of a stroke, you will find five other things that person was about to die from.”

While research continues to look at ways to help people live longer and healthier, Perls is looking at populations that seem to do that better than most.

The Seventh-day Adventists are such a group: They live to an average age of 88, or about 10 years longer than other people in the country. They don’t smoke. They tend to be lean and fit and get regular exercise. They eat a largely vegetarian diet and spend a lot of time involved with family and religion, which scientists think helps them manage stress.

“If everyone in our country adopted those behaviors, the payoff would be huge,” said Perls, an associate professor of geriatrics at Boston University Medical Center. He would add one more piece of advice to the list:

“Avoid anti-aging quacks like the plague.”

Source: Los Angeles Times

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Why some live 110 years or more

 A group of researchers has set up a foundation to study the members of a rare and exclusive club: people who live to be older than 110……..CLICK & SEE

The Supercentenarian Research Foundation hopes to identify why these people live so long, develop strategies to help combat the effects of aging and improve the quality of life of the very old.

It is estimated that there are about 300 people worldwide who are 110 years old or older, but not all of those people have had their ages verified through public documents.

As of this week the foundation, based in Pittsburgh, reported that there were 76 people in the world – 66 women and 10 men – who were verified to be 110 or older.

“The longer we wait, the more they’re going to die and we will lose that information,” said Dr Stephen Coles, the foundation’s treasurer and a researcher who has studied the elderly as part of the Los Angeles Gerontology Research Group.

Coles said demographers have shown that the number of people reaching 100 years old is growing exponentially, while few people live to be older than 110. Researchers are turning to science to try to explain why.

The oldest person ever whose age was authenticated was Jeanne Louise Calment, who lived to 122 years and 164 days, the foundation said. She was born on February 21, 1875, and died at a nursing home in Arles in southern France on August 4, 1997.

Stanley R Primmer, the foundation’s president, said there have only been seven autopsies of supercentenarians that the group knows of. He said the foundation is in the process of gathering tissues from the very elderly so they can look for clues to longevity.

(From the news published in The Times Of India)