In 1997, Jeanne Louise Calment of France died at the age of 122, making her the oldest documented human to have ever lived. People who live to be 100 years or older are rare, and only about 1 in 600,000 people in industrialized nations live that long. But is there something genetically unique about centenarians that enables them to age gracefully and relatively disease-free? According to the results of a long-term study at Boston University School of Medicine, the answer is yes.
"Out of 100 centenarians we could correctly predict the outcome of 77 percent, while we incorrectly predicted the outcome of 23 percent," said Sebastiani. The researchers believe the 23 percent error rate can be attributed to genetic variance not yet known and included in the analysis, as well as other factors that influence longevity. "Making healthy lifestyle choices such as eating a well balanced diet or exercising regularly and avoiding exposure to tobacco plays an undisputed role in determining how each of us will age," said Andrew Sugden, international managing editor of Science.