"EVERY man desires to live long; but no man would be old," wrote Jonathan Swift. In the quest to live life long and well, people have consumed everything from turtle soup to owl meat to gladiator's blood. Russian French microbiologist Ilya Mechnikov thought a human could live for 150 years on a steady diet of milk cultured with bacteria (he died at 71). While the Internet offers a wide variety of products for fountain-of-youth seekers, some researchers have turned their attention to the genes (see story, p. 34).
GENES PLAY A LARGER ROLE IN MORBIDITY AND MORTALITY
ENVIRONMENT PLAYS A LARGER ROLE IN MORBIDITY AND MORTALITY
• Alzheimer disease
SINGLE GENES PLAY A LARGE ROLE IN MORBIDITY AND MORTALITY
Single Gene Disorders:
THE LIMITS ON LIFE EXPECTANCY
The longest lived and healthiest people are the Japanese, with an average life expectancy of 81.8 years. Sub-Saharan African populations have the lowest life expectancy, near 40 in many countries, due to HIV. Jeanne Calment (pictured far right), who died at 122 in 1997, holds the record as the oldest person. One in 10,000 people in developed nations is a centenarian, over the age of 100, and 90% of these are women. Some researchers believe that by studying the genetics of centenarians, they will discover the secret to long life.