A fifty-year longitudinal study of human aging is wrapping up, and the results, as is usually the case, point to the importance of lifestyle choices in determining natural variations in human longevity. It also reinforces the point that you can't use good lifestyle choices to guarantee a path to an exceptional life span: the majority of people with the best lifestyles are still dead in their 80s, even though they on average do far better than their peers, with a lower level of pain and disease. The only way to reliably live far longer in good health is through progress in medical science, for the research community to produce rejuvenation therapies capable of repairing the cell and tissue damage that causes aging. The degree to which we all help to ensure those therapies are developed in time is the greatest determinant of our future health and longevity.
For the past 50 years, researchers have followed the health of 855 Gothenburg men born in 1913. Now that the study is being wrapped up, it turns out that ten of the subjects lived to 100 and conclusions can be drawn about the secrets of their longevity. Various surveys at the age of 54, 60, 65, 75, 80 and 100 permitted the researchers to consider the factors that appear to promote longevity. A total of 27% (232) of the original group lived to the age of 80 and 13% (111) to 90. All in all, 1.1% of the subjects made it to their 100th birthday. According to the study, 42% of deaths after the age of 80 were due to cardiovascular disease, 20% to infectious diseases, 8% to stroke, 8% to cancer, 6% to pneumonia and 16% to other causes. A total of 23% of the over-80 group were diagnosed with some type of dementia.
"The unique design has enabled us to identify the factors that influence survival after the age of 50. Our recommendation for people who aspire to centenarianism is to refrain from smoking, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and confine themselves to four cups of coffee a day." It also helps if you paid a high rent for a flat or owing a house at age 50 (indicating good socioeconomic standard), enjoy robust working capacity at a bicycle test when you are 54 and have a mother who lived for a long time. "Our findings that there is a correlation with maternal but not paternal longevity are fully consistent with a previous studies. Given that the same associations have been demonstrated in Hawaii, the genetic factor appears to be a strong one." But still we found that this "genetic factor" was weaker than the other factors. So factors that can be influenced are important for a long life.