In the past, doctors tended to predict longevity based on genetics; if a person's parents
or grandparents lived a long life, he or she was more likely to reach an advanced age,
too. According to the latest research, however, genes are not nearly as important as
healthy lifestyle choices.
In a twenty-five-long study, Harvard University scientists tracked 2,357 men
from the age of seventy until they died. They discovered that participants who avoided
smoking, obesity, inactivity, diabetes , and high blood pressure had a 54 percent chance
of reaching the age of ninety, while those who did not avoid those five
risk factors had only a 4 percent chance of living that long.
That's no surprise to Amanda McKay of Tampa, Florida. "I've always
tried to develop good living habits," the 105-year-old retired secretary
proudly proclaims. "I don't smoke, I don't drink, and I'm careful with
what I eat." McKay still takes a half hour's walk every day, although now she only does
so when accompanied by her seventy-six-year-old daughter. She also makes sure to visit her doctor regularly.
The ongoing medical care that McKay receives is probably also a factor that has helped
her live to over a hundred. In another longevity study, Boston University researches
interviewed more than 700 people over the age of a hundred and assessed their health.
They found that one third of the study's participants suffered from diseases such as
high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Despite their health problems, many
of these elderly people were functioning almost as well as those who did not suffer
from any serious diseases.
According to Dr.William Hall of the University of Rochester, that may be the result
of a change in medical profession's approach towards aging. Once, doctors assumed
that there was no real benefit to treating elderly people with chronic illnesses, but that
is no longer the case. Nowadays, doctors treat older people as aggressively as they treat
younger people, which enables the elderly to live a longer and healthier life.
Over the last three decades, the number of centenarians in the United States has
almost quadrupled from 15, 000 to more than 55,000. In other countries, the number
of centenarians is also increasing annually. If you want to join that exclusive club, now
is the time to get started.
קרדיט ל- Bagrut Plus
Module E: Test II