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By the year 2050, the number of centenarians – people who are 100 years or older – is expected to increase fivefold. Many factors promote centenarians' extraordinary longevity and likely involve the interaction of both lifestyle and genetic variables. A recent study has found that the blood of centenarians differs from their younger counterparts.

The study followed more than 44,000 people from their mid-60s to late 90s until they died. Of these, 1224 of them lived to 100 years old. Using blood samples collected earlier in the participants' lives, researchers assessed 12 blood-related biomarkers previously associated with aging or early death, including those associated with inflammation and indicators of malnutrition, anemia, and liver, kidney, and metabolic function.

They found that higher levels of total cholesterol and iron and lower levels of glucose, creatinine, uric acid, and several enzymes involved in metabolism increased the likelihood of reaching 100 years. Notably, centenarians exhibited strikingly consistent biomarker profiles, even from age 65 and beyond, displaying more favorable values than their shorter-lived counterparts.

Centenarians often carry genetic variants called single-nucleotide polymorphisms associated with longevity. They tend to develop disease much later in life than people of average age span, a phenomenon called “compression of morbidity,” and have longer telomere lengths than adults two to three decades younger. The highest concentrations of centenarians worldwide live in Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California.

The findings from this study demonstrate that biomarkers related to various genetic or lifestyle influences may contribute to greater longevity. Inflammation also plays a role in longevity. Learn more in this clip featuring Dr. Valter Longo.

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