For the past 50 years, researchers in Sweden have been doing an aging version of "Up," the documentary series that followed 14 British children and produced a film every seven years.
By surveying 855 men at the ages of 54, 60, 65, 75, 80 and 100, researchers at the University of Gothenburg were able to consider which factors appeared to promote longevity. All of the subjects were men born in 1913 and the first survey was conducted in 1963. Ten of the men lived to 100.
According to a press release, a total of 27 percent (232) of the original group lived to be 80 and 13 percent (111) made it to 90. Just 1.1 percent of the study subjects made it to their 100th birthday. Deaths after age 80 broke down as follows: 42 percent from cardiovascular disease, 20 percent to infectious diseases; 8 percent to stroke, 8 percent to various cancers, 6 percent to pneumonia and 16 percent to other causes. About a quarter of the 80-plus group suffered some form of dementia.
But among those with 100 candles on the cake, certain lifestyle traits were found to be common: They did not smoke, they had healthy cholesterol levels and they drank no more than four cups of coffee a day, said Lars Wilhelmsen, who was involved with the study from its start. Being wealthier also helps, as does having a mother who lived to a ripe old age too.
All of the centenarians wore hearing aids, most wore glasses and were able to read and watch TV, and all of them were slim and had good posture.
"Normally we conducted the surveys at hospitals, but we visited the seven centenarians at home," Dr. Wilhelmsen says. "All of them were clinically healthy, satisfied with their circumstances and pleased to be living where they were."
One final thought: When will they study how many of us actually want to live to be that old? Your thoughts on living to 100, readers? Please post them in comments below.