Local News

Aging Gene May Be Key To Living Long Life

Posted June 12, 2006

— The average age expectancy in the United States is about 75 years old, but there are more than 70,000 people in the U.S. over the age of 100. Researchers are looking at why they are living longer lives.

Kenneth Greenblatt said he uses exercise to stretch out his life as long as possible.

"I'm 60, and I could do what I was doing when I was in college," he said.

Burt Gold is almost 80. He said love leads to longevity.

"Marrying the right woman is really essential to a healthy long life," he said.

Researchers are studying centenarians -- those who live to be 100. Their DNA may work differently, specifically, an aging gene called SIRT. When scientists manipulated the gene in roundworms, their lifespan doubled.

Right now, science cannot just turn off aging genes in humans. The good news is recent research shows healthy habits may be just as important as genes.

Studies of centenarians found most of them eat well and they also eat less.

"We know restricting calories is equal to longevity," said Dr. Mohsin Jaffer of Memorial Hospital West.

Centenarians also stay physically active. Daily exercise fights off a number of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, arthritis, dementia and stroke. They also know how to work out their problems.

"They do not stress. They put all their troubles behind them and look at every day as a new day," Jaffer said.

The United States ranks 17th in average life expectancy on a list of 33 developed nations, while Japan holds the lead with an average life expectancy of 79.


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