People Who Live to 100 Have These 3 Things in Common, New Research Shows
These health markers could help predict a long life.
There may be no greater gift than a long and healthy life, and increasingly, people are powering through to a ripe old age. Though the nation saw lowered average lifespans in 2020 and 2021—a statistic that reflects the heavy toll of the pandemic—adults now live roughly 10 years longer on average than they did in 1950. If you're hoping to live to 100, a new study published in the journal GeroScience says there are three key things that centenarians are likely to have in common. Read on to learn which three health markers may mean you're in for a longer than average life—and how you can sway things in your favor regardless of those results.
People who live to 100 have these three things in common.
According to this new research, there are three biomarkers more commonly found in the blood tests of people who live to 100 years old, compared to those who don't.
"Those who made it to their hundredth birthday tended to have lower levels of glucose, creatinine, and uric acid from their 60s onwards," Karin Modig, MD, associate professor at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet and a co-author of the study, wrote in The Conversation. "Very few of the centenarians had a glucose level above 6.5 earlier in life, or a creatinine level above 125."
The study included data from 44,000 older adults in Sweden, who underwent medical testing between the ages of 64 and 99.
Here's how the experts explain it.
Having high levels of these compounds can point to existing health problems, which is why these blood test results may sometimes precede a shortened lifespan. In particular, high creatinine levels can indicate kidney or cardiovascular problems, high levels of uric acid are associated with inflammation, and high levels of glucose in the blood (also known as blood sugar) can lead to diabetes.
"Those three factors are surrogate markers of metabolic and tissue dysfunction that reflect cellular changes related to the aging process. They are not the cause, but the result of cellular malfunction," explains Jose R. Rojas-Solano, MD, a doctor working with The Regenerative Medicine Institute (RMI), a medical group that focuses on longevity and cellular aging. "They are late markers of organ dysfunction and thus predictive of a reduced lifespan."
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These weren't the only significant biomarkers the study identified.
In addition to looking at creatine, uric acid, and blood glucose, the researchers also noted a correlation between cholesterol and iron levels and longevity. However, these were found to be less statistically significant than the three key compounds they highlighted.
"The people in the lowest out of five groups for levels of total cholesterol and iron had a lower chance of reaching 100 years as compared to those with higher levels," Modig wrote.
Your lifestyle can have a major impact on longevity.
With the right lifestyle, longevity is a goal within reach, say experts from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In fact, they note that while many people are discouraged by the belief that genetics predetermine your lifespan, "genes are only part of the equation."
In fact, Thomas Perls, MD, an aging expert and director of the New England Centenarian Study at the Boston University School of Medicine, shared via the NIH that "common sense and healthy habits" can make a profound impact on longevity and quality of life. The doctor points out that genes account for less than one-third of your chances of surviving to age 85—the rest comes down to our health habits.
"Our genes could get most of us close to the remarkable age of 90 if we lead a healthy lifestyle," Perls writes.
Here's what to do.
The researchers behind the study stopped short of offering any prescriptive advice, but said that lifestyle interventions are likely to have a positive influence over the biomarkers they determined to be significant.
"It is reasonable to think that factors such as nutrition and alcohol intake play a role," Modig wrote. "Keeping track of your kidney and liver values, as well as glucose and uric acid as you get older, is probably not a bad idea."
Rojas-Solano agrees that these factors could promote long-term health and longevity: "Individuals with a healthy lifestyle together with some medications and supplements that help to improve and maintain cellular and organ function will have better measurements."
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