How to Reach Extreme Old Age: The Secret to Living to 100
By Jeremy Armstrong / The Mirror UK
British scientists have cracked the secret to a long and healthy life - and its all in the genes.
Experts at Newcastle University looked at the key to longevity among people who live to 100.
And they say there is a good chance centenarians and super-centenarians - those who live to 105 and longer - will pass on their 'long life' genes on to their children.
Low rates of inflammation in the body, a common contributor to disease in older people, is key to ageing well.
And you need high performing human cells dedicated to the ageing process known as telomeres.
Telomeres are specialised regions of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes in cells.
They recede with age in most people, accelerating the ageing process in the body as they do so.
In the cells of people aged 100 or older who were tested in the study, the ageing control centre of the cell shrunk more slowly - a trait also observed in their children.
"Our data reveals that once you are really old, telomere length does not predict further successful ageing.
"But it does show that those who have a good chance to become centenarians and those older than 100 maintain their telomeres better than the general population, which suggests that keeping telomeres long may be necessary or at least helpful to reach extreme old age."
The study, conducted in partnership with the Keio University School of Medicine in Tokyo, aimed to determine the biological traits that predict extreme longevity.
It looked at data from 1,554 individuals, including 684 centenarians, 167 pairs of offspring and 536 very old people.
The total group covered ages from around 50 up to the world's oldest man at 115 years.
The authors of the study said it is hoped these discoveries can be applied to promote similarly successful ageing amongst the general public.
Prof Nobuyoshi Hirose, Head of the Tokyo Centenarians Study, said: "If we can find out what makes centenarians and super-centenarians different it might become possible to improve all our lives as we age."
The aim of the research was to identify biological factors that predict successful ageing at extreme old age, and to see whether improved performance in these factors would already be recognisable in centenarian offspring.
The study has been published online in EBioMedicine, a new open access journal jointly supported by The Lancet.