Eunice Sanborn, widely believed to be the world’s oldest person, died in her Texas home on Monday. She was 114.
As medical technology and health habits have improved, more and more people are living longer and more active lives. So it hardly seems a stretch to wonder: with the right diet and attitude — and a bit of good luck thrown in for good measure — could pretty much anyone make it to 114 these days?
“No way,” says longevity authority Dr. Thomas Perls.
Perls heads up the New England Centenarian Study, conducted out of the Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts. He studies how genes, lifestyle and health habits combine to allow some people to live 100 years or more.
Reaching triple digits isn’t that unusual anymore, Perls said — about one in 5,000 people today does. But turning 115 is “incredibly rare,” he said. People claim to be that old now and then, but nearly all such claims turn out to be false.
Perls’ research suggests that about 15% of the population have genes that predispose them to reaching 100 years of age. A more realistic longevity goal for most of us is about 90 years.
If you want to maximize your potential longevity, he said, it helps to live “like a Seventh-Day Adventist.” Members of that READ MORE