On Ashkenazi Jews and Human Longevity Research

A human interest piece on research into the genetics and biochemistry of centenarians amongst the Ashkenazi Jewish population: "Irving Kahn is about to celebrate his 106th birthday. He still goes to work every day. Scientists are studying him and several hundred other Ashkenazim to find out what keeps them going. And going. And going. ... The world's oldest stockbroker, he first went to work on Wall Street in 1928. ... Still, a man who at 105 - he'll be 106 on December 19 - has never had a life-threatening disease, who takes no cholesterol or blood-pressure medications and can give himself a clean shave each morning (not to mention a 'serious sponge bath with vigorous rubbing all around'), invites certain questions. Is there something about his habits that predisposed a long and healthy life? (He smoked for years.) Is there something about his attitude? (He thinks maybe.) Is there something about his genes? (He thinks not.) And here he cuts me off. He's not interested in his longevity. But scientists are. ... Pharmaceutical companies and the National Institutes of Health are throwing money into longevity research. Major medical centers have built programs to satisfy the demand for data and, eventually, drugs. Irving himself agreed to have his blood taken and answer questions for the granddaddy of these studies, the Longevity Genes Project at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, which seeks to determine whether people who live healthily into their tenth or eleventh decade have something in common - and if so, whether it can be made available to everyone else."

Link: http://nymag.com/print/?/news/features/ashkenazi-jews-2011-11/

Comments

I have become interested in longevity influences as my parents both lived to 96 and I am going very strong at 80. It has seemed to me that the effects of mental stress has not received enough attention. I seem to be by makeup an eternal optimist and non worrier. People who feel that they have control over their lives seem to live longer, eg orchestra conductors is a well know case. Is 'low mental stress' the result of genetics or other influences. Perhaps this topic deserves more research.

Posted by: David Miller at March 9th, 2012 7:51 AM

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