The Blood of Exceptionally Long-Lived People Shows Key Differences
Centenarians, those who live to be 100 years old or older, are becoming increasingly common in today’s society. In fact, they are the fastest-growing demographic group in the world, with their numbers doubling every ten years since the 1970s. The question of how long humans can live and what factors contribute to a long and healthy life has fascinated scientists for centuries. Ancient philosophers like Plato and Aristotle even pondered the aging process over 2,300 years ago.
Understanding the secrets of exceptional longevity, however, is no easy task. It requires unraveling the complex interplay of genetic predisposition and lifestyle factors throughout a person’s life. A recent study published in GeroScience has shed light on some common biomarkers found in individuals who live past the age of 90, providing valuable insights into the keys to long and healthy aging.
Examining the Lives of Centenarians
Centenarians have long been a subject of intense interest for scientists, as they offer a unique opportunity to study the factors that contribute to long life and good health. Previous studies on centenarians have been small scale and often limited to specific groups, such as excluding those livingin care homes.
The recent study, however, stands apart as the largest study of its kind to compare biomarker profiles between exceptionally long-lived individuals and their shorter-lived peers. The researchers examined the profiles of over 44,000 Swedes who had undergone health assessments between the ages of 64 and 99 as part of the Amoris cohort. These participants were then followed for up to 35 years using Swedish register data.
Out of the participants, 2.7% or 1,224 individuals lived to be 100 years old. An interesting observation was that the vast majority (85%) of centenarians were female. The study analyzed twelve blood-based biomarkers related to inflammation, metabolism, liver and kidney function, as well as potential malnutrition and anemia.
Key Findings and Insights
While there were no significant differences in median values between centenarians and non-centenarians for most biomarkers, several trends were observed. Individuals who reached the age of 100 tended to have lower levels of glucose, creatinine, and uric acid from their sixties onwards.
Interestingly, centenarians displayed levels of biomarkers that were less extreme compared to their shorter-lived peers. For example, very few centenarians had glucose levels above 6.5 or creatinine levels above 125 earlier in life. Additionally, both centenarians and non-centenarians had biomarker values that fell outside the normal range found in clinical guidelines. This could be due to the fact that these guidelines are based on a younger and healthier population.
Further analysis revealed that all but two of the twelve biomarkers showed a connection to the likelihood of reaching 100, even after accounting for age, sex, and disease burden. Higher levels of total cholesterol and iron were associated with an increased chance of living to 100, while higher levels of glucose, creatinine, uric acid, and markers for liver function decreased the odds.
Although the absolute differences in biomarker levels were relatively small, they suggest that there may be a link between metabolic health, nutrition, and exceptional longevity. The study, however, does not conclusively identify which lifestyle factors or genes contribute to these biomarker values. Nonetheless, factors such as nutrition and alcohol intake likely play a role.
Implications and Takeaways
While chance may also play a role in reaching an advanced age, the differences in biomarker levels observed long before death suggest that both genes and lifestyle contribute to a long and healthy life. Monitoring kidney and liver values, as well as glucose and uric acid levels as we age, could be beneficial in promoting longevity.
In conclusion, the study provides valuable insights into the biomarkers associated with exceptional longevity. By understanding these key differences, further research can be conducted to uncover the specific lifestyle factors and genes that contribute to a longer and healthier life.
Keywords: Differences in Blood of Long-Lived People – Key Study, centenarians, exceptional longevity, biomarkers, long and healthy life, metabolic health, cholesterol, glucose, uric acid, kidney function, liver function, nutrition, lifestyle factors, genes