At 98, Harold Laufman plays the violin, prepares dinner for relatives and throws a joint birthday party with his 31-year-old neighbor. He is writing a book about life after 95 and calls his girlfriend “feisty.” The retired surgeon says, “I wake up every morning with an agenda for the day.”
According to research published August 3 in the online edition of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Laufman probably owes his longevity to the genes he inherited. Dr. Nir Barzilai, Chair of Aging Research and Director of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, was lead researcher in a study that looked at over 500 Ashkenazi Jews. All were between ages 95 and 117 and were living independently. Three quarters were women. They were enrolled in the Longevity Genes Project.
The advantage of focusing on the Ashkenazi Jews was their genetic homogeneity. A trained interviewer asked questions about their lifestyles at age 70—drinking and smoking, diet and exercise. The results were compared with responses from 3,164 people surveyed for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted between 1971 and 1975.
Photo from Urbankudos via Flickr Creative Commons
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