The Study of Supercentenarians
Throughout the world, people of supercentenarian age represent a growing segment of the population. This growing segment is expected to exceed three million by 2050. Among other things, this group includes the world’s oldest people. These individuals are typically characterized by long, full lives that are both physically and mentally active. They are also often valued by their communities, as they contribute a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to society. The study of supercentenarians is a new field of research.
Researchers are hoping to uncover the environmental cornerstones of extreme longevity. The main predictors of longevity are heredity and environmental factors. In addition, the longevity of supercentenarians is likely to be largely a matter of genetics. In particular, men and women centenarians tend to be lean and functionally fit. In addition, male centenarians are more likely to participate in studies than female centenarians. Lastly, male centenarians are more likely than females to die of age-related diseases. In addition, they are more likely to delay the onset of serious illness until they reach the age of 90.
The New England Centenarian Study (NECS) is an unprecedented study of centenarians in the United States. Currently, NECS is the largest comprehensive study of centenarians in the world. During the course of its study, NECS tracked 46 centenarians in the Boston area and 300 younger controls. In addition to phenotypic characteristics, NECS measured the prevalence of dementias in centenarians.
Although many supercentenarians are functionally independent, they do need assistance at times. However, they are also more likely to be functionally independent than their younger counterparts. Additionally, these centenarians are less likely to have vascular disease and stroke. This can be attributed to their aversion to age-related frailty.
In addition to the aforementioned phenotypic traits, the study reported some surprising findings. One interesting finding was the life-long sustained mortality advantage of the siblings of centenarians. Another finding was that women are more adept at dealing with age-related conditions than their male counterparts. In addition, these older women often give birth to children after the age of 40. This is a good indicator that their reproductive systems are slow to deteriorate.
Other aforementioned findings included the fact that women have a four-fold greater chance of living to 100 than men. Similarly, people in middle age are likely to experience better emotional well-being than at any other period of adulthood. They may even be able to learn from their elders.
The study found that supercentenarians share similar phenotypic, behavioral, and genetic characteristics. This can be attributed to a number of factors, including genetics, environmental influences, and a general lack of age-related frailty. In addition, a substantial proportion of supercentenarians are functionally independent, and do not need to rely on others for assistance.
The aforementioned study is just the tip of the iceberg in the quest to find the environmental and genetic aspects of extreme longevity. In addition, researchers are also trying to discover the exact mechanisms that enable the survival of such individuals.