Posted on Feb 26, 2009, 9 a.m.
By gary clark
The National Institute on Aging has provided a five-year grant to the National Opinion Research Center to study why people live 100 years or more.
A new project entitled, Biodemography of Exceptional Longevity in the United States, is being funded by the National Institute on Aging to build upon the work of previous longevity studies. Husband-and-wife team and co-investigators, Leonid Gavrilov and Natalia Gavrilova, will "investigate why some people manage to survive to extreme old age and help identify the biological and social correlates of exceptional longevity," Gavrilov explains. "We hope to find out the determinants of human longevity and to get insights into mechanisms and causes of long life. These are important issues, not only for demographic forecasts of human mortality and population aging, but also for improving our understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of human aging and longevity," he says.
Previous research has demonstrated that there are several factors that make it two to three times more likely that a person will live to 100 years or older. According to the Gavrilovs, who have written extensively on the subject, extreme longevity can be linked to a mother's age at the birth of the child, where the person is born within the U.S., and his or her socioeconomic background. Specifically, their research found that babies born to young moms under the age of 25 are twice as likely to live to 100 compared to babies born to older moms; farmers tend to live longest; and men who had more than four children by the time they are 30 also live longer. Today, centenarians are among the most rapidly growing segments of the population in the U.S., with the numbers of people living to 100 or more growing at a rate of 4.1 percent a year.
The new study will take advantage of U.S. Census and Social Security Administration data, genealogies and military draft records. The co-investigators, who plan to collaborate with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Utah and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, will look at conditions during early life, the physical characteristics of adults, and marriage and reproductive history on exceptional longevity.
News Release: Project win announcements: Biodemography of Exceptional Longevity www.longevity-science.org February 23, 2009