NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Getting One Hundred Candles On Your Cake

May 3, 2001

Researchers are probing the question of how and why certain people live to be 100 -- even if they smoke, ignore good nutrition and don't bother to exercise.

Robert Butler, director of the International Longevity Center in New York City, thinks the time is ripe to study the rapidly growing club of those who live to 100 and beyond. The exact factors that promote long life are still nature's secret, but a few things are known.

  • Just one in every 10,000 Americans lives to be a hundred -- but they are the fastest growing age group and by 2050 there could be nearly a million of them.
  • Few 100-year-olds have had heart attacks, or developed Alzheimer's or diabetes.
  • Siblings of centenarians tend to live long themselves -- and are at least four times more likely than the general population to reach their 90s and eight times as likely to see 100.
  • Centenarian women outnumber men, but the group tends to be sicker and more frail -- and women who have had a child after age 40 are five times more likely to reach the century mark than other women.

Also, centenarians score lower on a psychological test for neurotic conditions or traits -- which means they don't worry a lot.

Source: Associated Press, "Centenarian Study Seeks Long-Life Key," Washington Times, May 3, 2001.


Browse more articles on Government Issues