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Senior Citizen Longevity & Statistics

How You Live Life More Critical to Longevity Than Genetics, Finds New Swedish Study

Long running study of elderly men finds longevity traits established before 60s

Feb. 7, 2011 - How long your parents lived does not affect how long you will live. Instead it is how you live your life that determines how old you will get, says research from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. This conclusion conflicts with a study released last July that claims to predict exceptional longevity from genetic variants, but is in line with ideas expressed by some who study centenarians.

(See sidebar for links to other studies.)

The latest study, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, also runs counter to what many people just assume - that those with parents who lived to be very old are more likely to live to a grand old age themselves.


Longevity Studies


Aging to 100 is More About Attitude, Adaptation, Physical Activity Than Health History

Healthy centenarians described as open and conscientious. Second UGA study shows decrease in physical activity accelerates decline in health - Dec. 1, 2010

Exceptional Longevity in Humans Accurately Predicted from Genetic Signatures

Henry Allingham, who died at 113 last year. He was oldest man in UK.‘Exceptional longevity may be the result of an enrichment of longevity-associated variants that counter the effect of disease-associated variants’

July 8, 2010

Taking Life Nice and Easy May Trump Antioxidants in Slowing the Aging Process

Research in the journal Genetics shows that your genes may be most important in slowing the body's aging process - July 6, 2010

Remembering the Good Times Is Secret to Happiness for Oldest American Seniors

Iowa State researchers find loss of cognitive ability is major source of depression for centenarians and older senior citizens

April 9, 2010

We are Living a Decade Longer Than Our Parents’ Generation Due to Healthy Aging

Good news is that after age 110, chance of death does not increase. Bad news is that it holds steady at 50% per year. - March 24, 2010

Children of Centenarians Live Longer, Have Less Heart Disease, Stroke Diabetes

Survival rate shows longevity runs in families, results indicate physiological and genetic reasons

Nov. 20, 2008

Study of Centenarian Suggests Genes May Not Hold the Secret to Longevity

Researchers credit Mediterranean diet, physical activity, mild climate

May 5, 2008


Related Stories


How Fast Senior Citizens Walk Found to be Good Predictor of How Long They Will Live

Large study of older Americans says prediction most accurate for those 75 and older; works for men and women - watch video

Jan. 5, 2011

Life Expectancy in U.S. Shows Surprising Decline in New 2008 CDC Data; Up for Blacks

Good news – stroke drops to fourth in leading cause of death; death rate declines - Dec. 10, 2010

High Levels of Antioxidant Alpha-Carotene from Fruits, Vegetables Found to Extend Life

Higher alpha-carotene concentration lowers risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer and all other causes - Nov. 22, 2010

Read more Longevity & Statistics on Senior Citizens


"But that's just not true,” says professor emeritus Lars Wilhelmsen. “Our study shows that hereditary factors don't play a major role and that lifestyle has the biggest impact."

The study group consisted of men born in 1913 that have participated in health and longevity studies in Gothenburg for many years.

Those in the 1913 Men Study who did not smoke, consumed moderate amounts of coffee and had a good socio-economic status at the age of 50 (measured in terms of housing costs), as well as good physical working capacity at the age of 54 and low cholesterol at 50 had the greatest chance of celebrating their 90th birthday.

"We're breaking new ground here," says Wilhelmsen.

"Many of these factors have previously been identified as playing a role in cardiovascular disease, but here we are showing for the first time that they are important for survival in general."

Keys to Longer Life

Those in the 1913 Men study with best chance to reach age 90 -

 did not smoke,

  ● consumed moderate amounts of coffee

  ● had a good socio-economic status at age 50

  ● had a good physical working capacity at age 54 and

  ● had low cholesterol at 50.

He believes that it is significant that the research illustrates so clearly that we do not "inherit" mortality to any great extent, but instead that it is the sum of our own habits that has the biggest impact.

"The study clearly shows that we can influence several of the factors that decide how old we get," says Wilhelmsen.

"This is positive not only for the individual, but also for society as it doesn't entail any major drug costs."

The 1913 Men epidemiological study started up in 1963. A third of all male 50-year-olds in Gothenburg were called for a check-up that focused on cardiovascular health. Every ten years since, a new group of 50-year-olds has been called in and those who were already taking part in the study have been given another check-up.

This has enabled researchers to follow the development of illnesses in a specific age group, and to compare the health of 50-year-olds in 2003 with that of 50-year-olds in 1963, for example.

Women have also been included in the study since 2003. Several variables have been studied over the years, including BMI, smoking habits, cholesterol, exercise habits and blood pressure.

The men born in 1913 were examined when they were 50, 54, 60, 67, 75 and 80. Of the 855 men who took part in the study from the start, 111 (13%) were still alive at the age of 90.

Over the years the material has generated many research articles and doctoral theses. An interesting result came in 2008 when researchers were able to show that the drop in the number of smokers, combined with lower cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure, between 1963 and 2003 could offer an explanation for the marked downturn in the number of heart attacks during this 40-year period.

The University of Gothenburg, Sweden, has approximately 37,000 students and is one of the major universities in northern Europe.

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