Natural Human Longevity is Accompanied by Increased Healthspan
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There has been an increasing level of research into natural variations in human longevity in recent years, largely focused on genetics and metabolism in long-lived families and populations. This produces a fair amount of epidemiological data too, which allows for this sort of analysis to be conducted:

Hypothesizing that members of families enriched for longevity delay morbidity compared to population controls and approximate the health-span of centenarians, we compared the health-spans of older generation subjects of the Long Life Family Study (LLFS) to controls without family history of longevity and to centenarians of the New England Centenarian Study (NECS).

We estimated hazard ratios, the ages at which specific percentiles of subjects had onsets of diseases, and the gain of years of disease-free survival in the different cohorts compared to referent controls. Compared to controls, LLFS subjects had lower hazards for cancer, cardiovascular disease, severe dementia, diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, and stroke.

The age at which 20% of the LLFS siblings and probands had one or more age-related diseases was approximately 10 years later than NECS controls. While female NECS controls generally delayed the onset of age-related diseases compared with males controls, these gender differences became much less in the older generation of the LLFS and disappeared amongst the centenarians of the NECS. The analyses demonstrate extended health-span in the older subjects of the LLFS and suggest that this aging cohort provides an important resource to discover genetic and environmental factors that promote prolonged health-span in addition to longer life-span.

Link: http://www.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fpubh.2013.00038/full

Comments

This is off topic but it just occurred to me and I haven't seen it expressed (probably because I haven't read every one of your posts :-D).

Everyone focuses on the incredible complexity of the systems with sustain life...and it's no wonder they are complex, they are the product of billions of years of positive selection through evolution.

However, the modes of damage operating in these systems have not been subject to selection. There's no reason for them to be particularly complex. It is a conceptual mistake to argue that damage repair must be incredibly complex, just because the systems of life are complex.

By comparison with machinery, the same rust affects both a simple metal pipe and a very complex swiss watch. The solution is the same for both, apply some rust-removing agent to each part.

Currently, biologists mainly focus on understanding every detail of the networks that give rise to life, but most of this knowledge is bound to be irrelevant for damage repair. We're not trying to rebuild the system from scratch, just remove the rust. The problem currently looks very hard, because few people are studying the actual problem.

Posted by: Will Nelson at December 19, 2013 4:41 PM
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