I'll point out the results of a demographic and an associative study today: many of the leads followed up by life science researchers are first identified by showing there is some association between a particular trait or aspect of our biology and people who live longer, or have better health in old age. Firstly, I see that the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging has published a weight of material, and a press release for those who like their summaries pre-digested:
TILDA is the most comprehensive study ever conducted on ageing in Ireland. Between 2009-2011, over 8,000 people aged 50 and over were randomly selected across the country and interviewed about many aspects of their lives including issues such as health, financial circumstances and quality of life. Almost 85 per cent of the participants also underwent a rigorous health assessment. The same group will be interviewed every two years until 2018.
A constant finding across the report is that those with higher levels of education and wealth are likely to enjoy better outcomes later in life.
Which reinforces data obtained from other large studies: the strong associations between wealth, intelligence, education, and health prospects in later life. These correlations have been discussed at Fight Aging! a number of times in past years. For example:
- Correlations in Biochemistry and Wealth
- Wealth and Longevity (for Individuals)
- Wealth and Longevity (for Populations)
- Revisiting the Link Between Intelligence and Longevity
- On Using the Tools to Hand
Moving on, you might recall hearing that grip strength is an excellent measure of frailty and thus risk of death in the old - and it correlates with all sorts of other measures of failing health and accumulating damage, such as the accumulation of AGEs. Here is another set of evidence in support of that biomarker:
We studied prospectively the midlife handgrip strength, living habits, and parents' longevity as predictors of length of life up to becoming a centenarian. The participants were 2,239 men from the Honolulu Heart Program/Honolulu-Asia Aging Study who were born before the end of June 1909 and who took part in baseline physical assessment in 1965-1968, when they were 56-68 years old. Deaths were followed until the end of June 2009 for 44 years with complete ascertainment.
Compared with people who died at the age of [less than] 79 years, centenarians belonged 2.5 times more often to the highest third of grip strength in midlife, were never smokers, had participated in physical activity outside work, and had a long-lived mother.
You can't do anything (yet) about the genes you were born with, but you can certainly work on the other line items listed above. You should expect good health to make a meaningful difference to your life expectancy - and bad health to make a meaningful difference in the opposite direction.