The breakthrough, described in the journal Science, is based on 150 genetic "signposts" found in exceptionally long-lived people. The researchers created a mathematical model which takes information from these signposts to work out a person's chance of reaching 100. It is based on the largest worldwide study of centenarians ever undertaken.
Some of the research team members are now building a web site that can help predict your life expectancy, based on the factors uncovered in the study. Once these factors are identified, you can presumably modify your lifestyle to add years to your life. It will include both genetic and non-genetic factors that affect life expectancy. The site is expected to be online within a few weeks.
The research was led by Paola Sebastiani, a professor of biostatistics at Boston University, and Thomas Perls, associate professor of medicine, also at Boston University.
Professor Sebastiani points out that the study helps scientists predict your life expectancy, barring accidents. "So, out of 100 centenarians, we could correctly predict the outcome of 77." However, the 23% error rate indicates that "while genetics is fundamental in exceptional longevity it's not the only thing". There may be other factors like environment or other lifestyles that may help people live longer and healthier lives.
Many of the factors are what we all expect: get more exercise, don't smoke, and similar, well-known factors. However, some of the recently-identified factors may not be so obvious.
The item that interested me is that religion can make a big difference in one's life expectancy. In the United States, members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church live significantly longer than any other religious group. with an average life expectancy of 88 years versus an average of 77.9 years for all Americans. The reasons seem to be unrelated to genetics. Seventh-day Adventists apparently live longer because they have a religion that asks them to be vegetarian; they regularly exercise; they don't drink alcohol; and they don't smoke. Seventh-day Adventists also tend to manage their stress well through religion and time with family.
You can read more about this recent study in a number of news web sites that are presently carrying this story. Start at http://tinyurl.com/2wtesle.