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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Blood tests to predict who will live to 100

Dr. Gabe Mirkin

A study of 44,000 Swedish adults, 64 to 99 years of age, followed for up to 35 years, found that 2.7 percent (1,224) lived to their 100th birthday (Geroscience, Nov 4, 2023). Among the 1,224 centenarians in this study, 84 percent were women. The researchers wanted to find out which blood tests (measures of metabolism, inflammation, liver function, kidney function, anemia, and nutritional status) would appear to predict longevity.

They found that from their 60s onward, the centenarians:
• had lower blood sugar levels (prevention of diabetes)
• had higher Iron and lower iron binding capacity (prevention of anemia)
• had higher cholesterol (avoiding malnutrition from not eating enough food)
• almost never had extremely high or low values on any of the lab tests
• had lower blood levels of waste products filtered from the blood by the kidneys (creatinine and uric acid – markers of inflammation, an overactive immune system that can damage cells and shortens lives)
• almost never had abnormally high liver function tests (aspartate aminotransferase, gamma-glutamyl transferase, alkaline phosphatase, lactate dehydrogenate)

Other Studies on Centenarians
• A study of people ages 90-101 in rural Southern Italy found that they were more optimistic and resilient to depression, had strong work ethic, were close to their families, were religious and had purpose for living (International Psycho Geriatrics, January 2018;30(1):31 -38).

• Another study found that when compared to people who did not reach 100, centenarians had fewer disabilities, comorbidities, and hospitalizations earlier in life (J Gerontology, 2021;76(1):157–163; Aging Cell, 2009;8(3):270–276; J American Geriatrics Soc, 2016;64(8):1583–1591). They also had better cognitive function.

• Level of fitness predicted a long life far better than how much time a person spent sitting (Mayo Clinic Proceedings, October 18, 2016). Heart-lung fitness is the ability of the heart and lungs to provide oxygenated blood to contracting muscles for prolonged periods. The authors found that people who spent 12-13 hours sitting each day were 75 percent more likely to have heart attack risk factors (high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, high waist circumference, high triglycerides, reduced good HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high fasting blood sugar levels). The most fit people were more than 40 percent less likely to have abnormal heart attack risk factors, even if they sat for 12 to 13 hours a day and did not meet the criteria for the recommended amount of exercise. People who exercised, but were not physically fit, were not protected from the heart attack risk factors. Exercisers lived significantly longer than non-exercisers and suffered far fewer heart attacks (Journal of Public Health, Oct 31, 2016). Older people who moved around lived longer than those who were consistently sedentary, and sedentary older people who became more active lived longer than those who remained sedentary (Med Sci in Spts Ex, Aug 2013;45(8):1501-1507).

• A study of 116,043 European men and women, followed for 15 years, found that of 16 different lifestyle profiles, four were associated with the greatest disease-free life years (JAMA Intern Med, April 6, 2020): absence of obesity, never smoked, exercised regularly, and drank no more than a moderate amount of alcohol.

• Harvard researchers found that adopting five healthy habits could extend life expectancy by 14 years for women and by 12 years for men (Circulation, 2018;345:345): eating a diet high in plants and low in fats, exercising at a moderate to vigorous level for several hours a week, maintaining a healthy body weight, not smoking, and consuming no more than one alcoholic drink a day for women and two for men.

• Living with a person who practices a healthful lifestyle increases your chances of practicing a healthful lifestyle (Genetics, November 1, 2018;210(3):1109-1124). Parents’ healthful lifestyles can change their genes so that they pass on more healthful genes to their children (Epigenomics, Jun, 2011;3(3):267–277). This process is called epigenetic modification. Mothers who live to their 90s with a healthy lifestyle are far more likely to have healthy daughters who live to their 90s (Age and Ageing, Nov, 2018;47(6):853–860).

• Having more strength and larger muscles is associated with a longer lifespan (BMJ Open, August 10, 2022). Weak handgrip strength predicts risk for death: Testing a patient’s handgrip strength can be used as an additional test to predict how long an older person will live.

My Recommendations
If you want to live to 100, it helps to have parents who live long lives, but you have more influence on ways to prevent disease and prolong your life with healthful living habits (Immun Ageing, Apr 5, 2016;13:12). You can get tests to measure your risk factors for known life-shortening diseases, but I think it is more important to work on your lifestyle:
• exercising every day
• working actively to control excess weight
• eating a healthful, primarily plant-based diet that includes a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, beans and other seeds
• avoiding smoke
• restricting alcohol
• trying to avoid harmful pollutants and industrial chemicals

Dr. Gabe Mirkin is a Villager. Learn more at www.drmirkin.com

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