Lifestyle, genetics and faith on the road to 100

Tue Nov 8, 2011 10:11am EST
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - They are among the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population and by 2050 their numbers could reach 601,000 but most centenarians never expected to reach 100 and many say lifestyle is the secret to longevity.

More than a third of U.S. centenarians questioned in a new poll credited their lengthy lives to good living, while 27 percent said it was due to genes and 23 percent cite their faith.

Only nine percent thought they had reached the century mark because of luck.

"Lifestyle choices are consistently very high ranking on what they attribute to their longevity," said Dr Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Medicare and Retirement, which commissioned the poll of 100 centenarians.

"It is a very fast-growing segment of the population."

About one in eight Americans were elderly in 1994 but that number is expected to grow to about one in five by the year 2030, according to U.S. Census Bureau.

Despite their surprise at reaching such a grand old age, many centenarians at some point during their lives said they had made a conscious effort to eat well, limit their alcohol intake and avoid smoking.

And half had decided to exercise regularly and minimize and manage stress in their lives.   Continued...