Are there factors that increase life expectancy? This says a doctor and professor of medicine

The New England Centennial Study has been tracking around 2,000 ‘centenarians’ (aged 100 and over) since 1995. This work sought to determine the specific factors that can lead to a longer life expectancyand it was discovered that not only genetics, but also habits, are determinants by the time a person lives 90 years or more.

Thomas Perls is a doctor and professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, and also the director of the present study. This one too designed a calculator that determines the life expectancy of a personwith estimates that are based on your frequency of work, visits to the doctor or habits, among others.

“If you make it to 95 years of age, it’s usually due to habits that are very beneficial for your health,” Pearls explains. But this doctor also does not downplay the determining capacity of genetics and, therefore, of “good luck”.

Habits that extend life

With the help of another study, which closely followed the habits of adherents of the religious group called the Seventh-day Adventist Church, they discovered 5 habits that are related to longevity. Its parishioners live on average between 86 and 90 years of age and regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. In common they had simply the strict monitoring of these behaviors:

1. Managing stress levels.

2. Good sleep quality.

3. Healthy eating: adhering to diets such as the Mediterranean or keto, as well as avoiding a high intake of red meat.

4. Constant exercise: strength training two days a week and aerobic exercise three days, even if it is for at least 10 minutes a day.

5. Stay away from tobacco.

Aging does not imply worse health

Dr. Perls discovered while doing research that many people were wary of living a long life, and this bias does not allow them to adequately consider the value that healthy habits have for people. “There are people who think that as you get older you get sicker, and that therefore they don’t want to reach that age. That reasoning has many flaws,” says Perls.

“The older you get, means that you will have had a healthier life, Add. Furthermore, he argued on the BU Today podcast that he was able to meet a number of centenarians, some of whom enjoy very active lives.

“I remember Mrs. Celia, who was 102 and was never there when I went to visit her in her community. I thought that maybe she would be seeing her doctors or something like that, but no, she was there in all kinds of performances playing the piano, very complete Chopin pieces,” Pearls told BU Today.

genetics and sex

Despite the aforementioned habits, genetics undoubtedly has a leading role in determining longevity. But the doctor is clear, stating that up to 75% of the chances of reaching 90 years come from health related behaviors.

However, it should be clarified that when the age reached is as impressive a figure as, for example, 110, then the percentages are reversed and genetics take over. In a study of 200 people who were 110 years of age or older, it was found that about 75% of their ability to reach that age came from a combination of unusual genetic variants.

Once the importance of genes has been corroborated, we must talk about the other fundamental factor, and that is that nine out of ten centenarians are female. “Women win the longevity marathon easily. But it is not clear why women are so much more likely to reach these more extreme ages,” confesses the doctor.

perls calculator

The virtual calculator that Perls created is capable of estimating a person’s life expectancy, based on a questionnaire with questions divided into various areas: family, health, habits…

When all the questions have been answered, the web page asks to enter the email to send the result (in English) to the interested party. The notification does not only include the approximate age calculation, but also adds a breakdown explaining how to increase life expectancy thanks to changes made in personal habits.

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