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Where Do Centenarians Disappear? - Research, Quality Of Life
Where Do Centenarians Disappear? - Research, Quality Of Life

Video: Where Do Centenarians Disappear? - Research, Quality Of Life

Video: Where Do Centenarians Disappear? - Research, Quality Of Life
Video: Ageing interventions and the limit to human longevity – separating fact from fiction 2023, June

There are places in the world that the writer and traveler Dan Buettner called "blue zones" - these are regions where large numbers of people live longer than the world average

Buettner even registered this name as a trademark and identified five zones in the world:

  • Okinawa in Japan,
  • Sardinia in Italy,
  • Nicoya in Costa Rica,
  • Ikaria in Greece,
  • Loma Linda in California (but only in the Seventh-day Adventist part).

By the way, Dan Buettner was recently in Moscow and spoke at the Forum of Social Innovation of the Regions, where he discussed the "Roadmap to Longevity: Modern Methods and Technologies of Life Extension" together with the famous gerontologist Aubrey de Gray, Andrey Kurpatov and others. There is a video of this discussion in Russian on Youtube.

9 rules of people who live the longest

The inhabitants of the Blue Zones are more likely than anywhere else to reach the age of one hundred, are less likely to suffer from diseases that kill people in other parts of the world, and enjoy more years without disease and in good health.

The reasons for such a wonderful life, according to Buettner, who studied the life and culture of centenarians, are, according to his book “Blue Zones. 9 rules of longevity from people who live the longest ":

  • constant, moderate physical activity;
  • low stress levels;
  • having a purpose in life;
  • moderate diet;
  • a diet based primarily on vegetables and fruits;
  • moderate alcohol consumption;
  • participation in social and religious activities;
  • rich and active family life;
  • genetic factor.

Do you want to die?

A July 2019 article by Saul Justin Newman of the Biological Data Institute at the Australian National University (Newman, 2019) added a few more very important and interesting factors that characterize blue zones.

But first the question is: do you want to die?

Do you want to go to the war your homeland got involved in? She “cared for you” so much that there is not even a normal road to your mountain village, let alone medical care or other support. But now she wants you to die for her, preferably heroically. You do not want to go to certain death, but you will have to, since you are under 45 years old. You are 40, everyone in the village knows each other well, the only official in the village is your nephew, and why not give you a birth certificate confirming that you are already 50?

Moreover, in the mountains where you live, there is a tradition to respect your elders, and the older you are, the more respect they listen to you, even if you are talking nonsense, plus you have low responsibility for your actions and words. Later it becomes clear that the country, having won its own, began to think about people and there were retirement pensions. What motivation do you still need to become a little older, and not really, but on pieces of paper?

They say that this is how the Bulgarian centenarians appeared who ate fermented milk products, and Ilya Mechnikov once marveled at these two facts and put them together, thanks to which we all eat yogurt with such hope for a healthy and long life

Did the error come out?

The United States has seen both a 150% increase in population and a 20% increase in life expectancy over the past hundred years. In this regard, the United States, already having a large number of super-centenarians who have crossed the 110-year mark, had to boast of an even greater number of them. But as the population grew, so did the number of states introducing birth certificates, and the number of super-centenarians began to fall. In other words, the American super-longevity today can most likely be determined by the absence of a birth certificate (at the time of birth).

In Italy, super-longevity began to be registered after the introduction of birth certification. But there, the number of centenarians is best predicted not by the frequency of olive oil consumption, but by low income and very short life expectancy.

Looking at this data, Saul Newman argues: “Italians over a hundred years old are concentrated in the poorest, hardest-to-reach provinces with the shortest average life expectancy, while America's super-centenarians are concentrated in regions with sloppy or no birth registration. These patterns are difficult to explain for biological reasons, but very easily for economic reasons, such as errors in birth records and pension fraud."

What is the mystery of Okinawa's centenarians?

If so, then we should find the same patterns in other blue zones. Let's look at Okinawa: the world famous island with the largest number of centenarians. What is the mystery of a long healthy life here? Could it be that Okinawa has the highest murder rate in Japan? Or is it that there are the largest numbers of people aged 65 and over who need financial support?

Okinawa has one of the lowest income levels in the country and the shortest life expectancy in Japan, which is one of the richest countries in the world, with extensive social programs to help the population

Important facts about the people of Ikaria

And the secret of the Greeks from the island of Ikaria is not that centenarians have an average of seven classes of education, and 10% of them are generally illiterate. There is a very high level of alcohol consumption, the income of the population is below average, and 99% of men smoke. None of these facts are mentioned in Dan Buettner's famous, enthusiastic article “The Island Where People Forget To Die” in the New York Times in 2012.

The situation is similar with other blue zones. Why is this data ignored in Buettner's books and articles? He writes about nine lessons of centenarians, about olive oil and beans, religious holidays and a rich social life, but he does not add that for this you have to be illiterate, smoke, drink, live very poorly, and preferably in a criminal environment.

Is it all about the dates of birth?

My mother did not eat yogurt, but when the Germans came to her Smolensk village in 1941 and later began to steal people to work in Germany, she, along with her older sister, the head of the village, “her” person, changed the date of birth in the official records.

It might not even be deliberate fraud. Errors can be found in the seemingly high quality databases. So, the Japanese data was considered just that - accurate and accurate, but a 2010 study found that 238 thousand (thousand!) 100-year-old Japanese, smiling wisely at life in the land of the rising sun, either absolutely died or could not be found anywhere.

Timely data cleansing in the UK has meant that the country does not have to brag about its elders. Surprisingly, you must agree: a good registry office system badly affects the appearance of super-longevity

The author of the study comes to the conclusion that the problems in the databases of centenarians are so insoluble that it is time to put forward a provocative hypothesis that sounds like this: "All super-centenarians have in their hands, accidentally or deliberately, false documents about their 110+ years of age and successfully convince others of this." …

This hypothesis, Newman argues, "cannot be refuted by any additional verification of documents, and age must be measured by biological means, such as chirality of amino acids or isotope analysis."

This study will certainly have fierce criticism, because it touches too many interests. Although it concerns long-livers who have reached 80+ years and super-long-livers who have crossed the 110-year mark, and does not deny the influence of factors that lead to a long and healthy life, it still makes you look with different eyes at the magical places "where people forget to die."

In the sly and wise smile of a century-old Ikarian old man with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of aniseed vodka in the other, there is no answer how old he really is, and the thick wrinkles around his eyes now seem like cracks in a blue dream


  • Newman SJ Supercentenarians and the oldest-old are concentrated into regions with no birth certificates and short lifespans // bioRxiv. 2019.doi: 10.1101 / 704080

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