Health & Fitness

Who lives to 100?

This week, we take a look at the findings of a study, which used data involving 45,000 people in Sweden. Authored by Murata et al, the study (called "Blood biomarker profiles and exceptional longevity") presented an analysis comparing centenarians (people who live to 100) and non-centenarians over a 35-year period.

Rising global numbers of centenarians, doubling every decade since 1950 and projected to quintuple between 2022 and 2050, have sparked curiosity about the factors contributing to longevity. Prior research has shown that not all centenarians enjoy robust health, revealing the complexity of reaching the centenary mark.

The research looked at 12 blood-based biomarkers associated with inflammation, metabolic, liver, and kidney function, as well as indicators of potential malnutrition and anaemia. While the chosen biomarkers were supported by existing literature, perhaps others should have been included. For example, insulin markers, vitamin D levels, and telomeres, might have been informative.

The study revealed some interesting sex-based differences, with women comprising a significant majority of centenarians. The biomarkers exhibited patterns, with glucose levels showing a pronounced (inverse) correlation with longevity - the higher the glucose, the lower the likelihood of reaching 100. Additionally, the study noted higher total cholesterol, lower creatinine, significantly reduced uric acid, and improved iron markers among centenarians. The research also revealed that individuals with lower uric acid levels had nearly twice the likelihood of reaching 100 compared to those with higher levels.

Looking at what we can do if we want to achieve long and healthy lives, the study emphasised the importance of maintaining lower glucose levels, while also suggesting that higher total cholesterol might contribute positively to longevity. Notably, the authors highlighted the need for further investigation into the impact of alcohol consumption and its potential connection to longevity.

Moreover, the study underscored the significance of nutrition, suggesting a diet rich in micronutrients and low in high-glycemic foods might be advisable. However, it also provoked contemplation on the quality of life, underscoring the importance of maximising healthy and active years rather than merely aiming for an extended lifespan.

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