03 October 2022

The main predictor of longevity

Scientists have identified factors that determine the life expectancy of older people

Olga Ivanova, Naked Science

Scientists from Duke and Minnesota Universities (USA) studied data from a longitudinal study that began in the 1980s. It involved 1507 elderly people, each of whom took blood samples. At the time of the study, the volunteers were at least 71 years old.

It is noteworthy that the blood samples had a peculiarity: they were taken during the period that preceded the widespread use of drugs, such as statins, which tend to distort the results of tests. In addition, the participants were monitored for several years — they filled out questionnaires about their health and habits.

Thus, using the advantages of past research, scientists were able to apply modern sophisticated analytical tools to their data. As a result, it was possible to identify several prognostic variables that affect life expectancy. The experts presented their findings in the journal EBioMedicine (Kraus et al., Causal analysis identifies small HDL particles and physical activity as key determinants of longevity of older adults).

The leading factor associated with longevity was the physical function of a person. In the elderly, it manifested itself in the ability to go grocery shopping or do housework. But cancer and cardiovascular diseases were not among the main predictors of life expectancy.

In addition, scientists have learned that a significant role in longevity is played by the level of cholesterol in the blood, and not just high-density lipoproteins, but a large number of small particles of such substances: the higher their index was, the higher the chances of longevity were. The authors of the work suggest that the size of such particles is associated with the removal from the body of a bacterial toxic molecule that causes inflammation — endotoxin.

Also among the factors of a longer life was the absence of bad habits in the past, namely smoking. Scientists believe that their findings will help doctors to identify risk factors for the elderly in a timely manner and will contribute to the adjustment of their life expectancy.

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