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Genes, Not Healthy Living, Get Most to Age 100
Date:8/3/2011

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Want to live to a ripe old age?

New research suggests that your life choices might not be the crucial factor in determining whether you make it to 95 or beyond; it finds that many extremely old people appear to have been as bad as everyone else at indulging in poor health habits during their younger years.

Of course, don't take this as an excuse to blow off the gym and enjoy a steak dinner with fries and a cigarette. Your lifestyle matters. But genes seem to provide an extra boost to those who end up living the longest, said Dr. Jill P. Crandall, a professor of clinical medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and co-author of a new study on longevity.

"The genetic component that allows people to survive into extreme old age is probably a very powerful one," she said, even counteracting the effects of unhealthy lifestyle choices.

The study focuses on the genes of extremely old people, who are a hot topic in anti-aging research. "When there is going to be a breakthrough that allows us to slow biological aging, it's probably going to come from the genetics of these people," said S. Jay Olshansky, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago who studies aging.

The study authors interviewed people living independently at ages 95 to 109, and asked them to recall things such as their weight, height, alcohol consumption, smoking and their physical activity at age 70; they were also asked whether they ate a low-calorie, low-fat or low-salt diet at that age. All the subjects were Ashkenazi Jews, who share a similar genetic heritage.

The researchers then compared the responses to those from a group of 3,164 people who took part in a survey in the 1970s. At the time, they were at about the same ages as the elderly subjects who appear in the new study.

In essence, the researchers wanted to know w
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