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So far, the key question for science is to know how many more years of life we can still gain without intensive application of scientific medicine. There are several old people living well beyond the population’s average. Interest is increasing to investigate the genes of those who surpass 100 years of life – sometimes very lucid and healthy. So, what do these people have that’s so special?

Such was the case of Emma Morano, who died in April 2017, at age 117. She’s believed to be the last survivor from the 19th century. Emma was born in Civiasco, in the Piedmont region of northern Italy and grew up in a large family with eight siblings. She lived through two world wars and more than 90 Italian governments.

Emma Morano never did stem cell therapy nor a 3-D print of her heart nor, as far as we know, underwent a calorific restricted diet. Of the four recognized drivers of long living – healthy living, disease prevention and cure, regenerative medicine and age-retardation –, Emma Morano reached the age of 117 simply with the first two factors. The same occurred with France’s Jeanne Calment, the recordholder of longevity who died in 1997 at the age of 122 years and 164 days.

Jeanne Calment

Emma Morano

15 years ago, a study of extremely old people in Japan concluded that the longer lived participants were healthier than the controls despite the fact they were on average 10.8 years older. They possessed significantly better biological and physiological risk factor profiles – better physical and cognitive function, as well as less age-related disease.

Healthy old-age gene. The study endorsed the concept of a “healthy aging” phenotype, whereby certain individuals are somehow able to delay or avoid major clinical disease and disability until late in life. Similarly, later research discovered that super centenarians, those surviving 110 years or more, displayed an exceptionally healthy aging phenotype where major chronic diseases and disabilities were markedly delayed, often beyond age 100. Such individuals had little cardiovascular disease and reported no history of cancer or diabetes.
Jeanne and Emma may all have achieved their extreme long lives through good genes, good health and good luck. Far from luck, the scientific advancements of the 21st century are headed towards deciding the longevity of their grandchildren. This is an issue that also depends on public policies, through which the research that will and will not continue is decided. There’s no ignoring that expanding the centenarian population has major social implications, including on Social Security.

In the political environment, the participation in debates will allow for the evolution of policies based on promoting longevity with quality of life. Additionally, it’s indispensable to closely track and ensure that governors utilize investments always to ensure the best scenarios for people and society. Click here for the full article.