Researchers may have cracked the code as to why centenarians live to be 100.
"As we age, there are changes in our immune systems, including in their function and cell makeup. And these changes can lead to aging-related diseases," said Tanya Karagiannis, Ph.D., a senior statistician at the Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies at Tufts Medical Center. She is one of the authors of the study.
"Many centenarians actually experience delays in the onset of these aging-related diseases," Karagiannis said.
Basically, centenarians have strong immune systems, even at their age. The researchers analyzed immune cells and blood across the human lifespan.
"Their immune system seemed to remain highly functional and they can develop a robust immune response at such extreme ages," she said.
It's not that they are just avoiding germs and infections. "Centenarians are not escaping infections. But they have a greater exposure to infection and they are able to respond to those infections," Karagiannis said.
In 2021, there were 89,739 centenarians in the United States, according to data from the United Nations Population Division.
Karagiannis said now the focus will be on looking at how these findings could lead to discovering healthy aging therapeutics.
“The idea of healthy aging therapeutics is finding the drivers of extreme longevity that can help people be healthier at older ages,” she said.
The Centers for Disease Control has some tips for healthy aging:
- Eat and drink healthy
- Move more, sit less
- Don't use tobacco
- Get regular checkups
- Know your family history
- Be aware of changes in brain health