For the past 50 years, researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy have followed the health of 855 Gothenburg men born in 1913. Now that the study is being wrapped up, it turns out that ten of the subjects lived to 100 and conclusions can be drawn about the secrets of their longevity.
Over the past half century, the University Gothenburg has hosted one of the world’s first prospective studies of aging. The subjects are 855 Gothenburg men born in 1913. The first surveys were conducted in 1963. Now that it has been determined that ten of the men lived to 100, the study is being wrapped up. Various surveys at the age of 54, 60, 65, 75, 80 and 100 permitted the researchers to consider the factors that appear to promote longevity.
A total of 27% (232) of the original group lived to the age of 80 and 13% (111) to 90. All in all, 1.1% of the subjects made it to their 100th birthday. According to the study, 42% of deaths after the age of 80 were due to cardiovascular disease, 20% to infectious diseases, 8% to stroke, 8% to cancer, 6% to pneumonia and 16% to other causes. A total of 23% of the over-80 group were diagnosed with some type of dementia.
“The unique design has enabled us to identify the factors that influence survival after the age of 50,” says Lars Wilhelmsen, who has been involved in the study for the past 50 years. “Our recommendation for people who aspire to centernarianism is to refrain from smoking, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and confine themselves to four cups of coffee a day.”
It also helps if you paid a high rent for a flat or owing a house at age 50 (indicating good socio-econmic standard), enjoy robust working capacity at a bicycle test when you are 54 and have a mother who lived for a long time. “Our findings that there is a correlation with maternal but not paternal longevity are fully consistent with a previous studies,” Wilhelmsen says. “Given that the same associations have been demonstrated in Hawaii, the genetic factor appears to be a strong one.” But still the researchers found that this “genetic factor” was weaker than the other factors. So factors that can be influenced are important for a long life.
“Normally we conducted the surveys at hospitals, but we visited the seven centenarians at home,” Wilhelmsen says. “All of them were clinically healthy, satisfied with their circumstances and pleased to be living where they were.”