Own a home and avoid bad habits: the guide to reaching 100
Staying slim, keeping away from cigarettes and owning a home by the age of 50 could be the secret to living to 100, scientists in Sweden have found.
In a landmark 50-year study investigating the link between lifestyle and lifespan in men, researchers discovered some intriguing similarities in the habits of centenarians.
All those involved in the study were born in 1913, and their progress has been followed since 1963. Just 10 of the original 855 strong cohort saw in their hundredth birthday.
All 10 were non-smokers, who had kept themselves slim and fit and who had good posture and low cholesterol and low blood pressure. They were all in active work until at least the age of 54; had drunk no more than four cups of coffee a day and had owned their own home by the age of 50, or rented an expensive property.
Having mothers who lived into their 80s or 90s was also important, although paternal age of death did not seem to matter. Most of the men had also not developed dementia and were still bright and active.
"The unique design has enabled us to identify the factors that influence survival after the age of 50," said Dr Lars Wilhelmsen, who has been involved in the study for 50 years.
"Our recommendation for people who aspire to be a centenarian is to refrain from smoking, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and confine themselves to four cups of coffee a day. The relationship between mother's age at death indicates that genetic factors play a role for longevity."
All the 100-year-olds were still living at home and enjoying life, which backs up research by University College London that found pensioners with a sense of purpose lived two years longer.
"Normally, we conducted the surveys at hospitals, but we visited the centenarians at home," said Dr Wilhelmsen. "All of them were clinically healthy, satisfied with their circumstances and pleased to be living where they were."
A total of 27pc of the original group lived to the age of 80 and 13pc to 90. Just 1pc made it to their 100th birthday.
Many health experts believe that if people embraced all the known anti-ageing interventions, most could live far longer.
Simple lifestyle changes such as walking regularly, cutting down on sugar, salt and fat, and taking advantage of drugs such as statins, could all extend life.
A report by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine published last week suggested that simply sticking to World Health Organisation nutritional guidelines could add eight months to life.