Health Headlines: Living to 100

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Published: Jul. 31, 2023 at 7:38 AM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - SAN DIEGO, Calif. - (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Bob Hope did it. George Burns, too. And Betty White was right on the brink when she passed away. It’s not so unusual anymore to live to be a hundred. In fact, there are half a million people worldwide who are at least 100 years old. By 2050, that number is expected to grow to 3.7 million. Scientists actually are predicting that children born today will, on average, live to be over 120 years old. What does the future of aging have in store for us?

When 101-year-old Olive “Ollie” Fowler was born, Warren G. Harding was US president. Milk was 33 cents. She says it was a much simpler time.

“We walked and rode bikes and nobody had cars, because nobody had money.” States Ollie.

Ollie met Sid, her husband for 70 years, when they were teens on the ice in Canada. Today, Ollie is part of a growing number of centenarians. So, why now? What is the future of aging? Epidemiologist Andrea LaCroix is making it her mission to find out.

“Your chronological age is a certain number, whereas our biological age is a measure of how fast we’re aging.”  Explains LaCrois.

Professor LaCroix believes epigenetics is key. Exposures in the environment and everyday stressors can impact your genes, causing some people to live longer than others.

“I think there probably are ways to slow down epigenetic age acceleration.” States LaCroix.

Another area of research, identifying cells that impact metabolism and inflammation. Scientists are exploring whether interventions such as caloric restriction, fasting, exercise and certain drugs turn back time on those cells and extend life.

“We’re on our way to finding a biomarker of biological aging that can be measured in the blood and that can help us understand where we are with respect to our aging process, over and above our chronological age.” Says LaCroix.

Researchers also want to know how microbiomes living in our bodies impact longevity.

LaCroix says, “There may be one day supplements or things that we can take that help us to age slower.”

Until then, Ollie says she will stick with what she knows works … surrounding herself with family and lots of love.

“You have to kiss each other good night, every night.” Says Ollie.

Ollie says longevity runs in her family – her father lived to be 98 and her mother was 91. She lost Sid 10 years ago. He died at age 91 at home in his bed. Ollie says she drove herself around town until five years ago, giving up her car keys at 96. And her last trip was just a few months ago. Ollie missed her grandchildren, so she flew to Canada to visit everyone.

Contributors to this news report include Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.