Definitions of Age

(Jun 29, 2016)

When modelling longevity, age is well-known to be a crucial risk factor. However it is also well-known that the life-expectancy upon attaining any specific age will differ between populations. A seventy-year-old life-long smoker from France may reasonably regard the future with less optimism than a non-smoking Okinawan of the same age (allowing, of course, for the occasional highly noteworthy exception). We sometimes describe such variations in life-expectancy between populations as differences in the rate of aging, although chronologically, we all ( barring celebrities!) age at precisely the same rate. For this reason, there has long been a search for a biological measure of aging that could be used…

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Tags: longevity, research, genetics, centenarians, age

Vampiric Victories

(Oct 29, 2015)

A Halloween-themed blog for the spooky season perhaps, but it isn't quite as off-topic as it first appears.  In legend, the vampire sought immortality through blood, whether drinking it or - reputedly in the case of Countess Elizabeth Báthory - bathing in it.  Whilst immortality is an admittedly desirable form of longevity, fairness dictates we point out the equally striking longevity impact in the opposite direction that befell the vampire's victim. Now, we'll let that brief waltz through vampire legend serve as prelude to a spattering of longevity-related research on the topic of blood.

The warnings from Oeppen and Vaupel notwithstanding, are we as human beings subject to a species-specific maximum…

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Tags: longevity, blood, centenarians, halloween

Jeanne Calment's Secret?

(Sep 15, 2015)

The story of Jeanne Calment, as the oldest verified human, represents an intriguing case for longevity practitioners, and serves as something of a cautionary tale for those in the annuity and pensions space. At age 90, she exchanged ownership of her apartment upon her death for a lifetime annuity of 2500 francs per month. The lawyer paying her annuity, Andre-Francois Raffray died of cancer in 1995 and left his family to continue payment. Calment survived a further two years before dying of natural causes aged 122.

It seems obvious that longevity has a substantial genetic component, but that doesn't mean such a component will prove simple to isolate. Late last year an ambitious attempt to map the genome of a group…

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Tags: longevity, research, smoking, centenarians

The accumulation of small changes

(Jan 5, 2011)

It is often easy to be fooled into thinking that a small change is of little importance.  Small changes can persist over time, and sometimes it is only in retrospect that one realises just how big the accumulated change is.  For example, in a post last year we looked at the radical change in survival to age 90 in recent memory.

The subject has come up again with the media coverage surrounding a recent press release about centenarians from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in the UK. The press release does not contain a new projection of mortality rates, but it does illustrate a neat point about projections over long periods of time.  The DWP results contain a table stating that a newly born female in the United Kingdom…

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Tags: mortality improvements, centenarians

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