US Pharm. 2008;33(3):99.

When many centenarians are asked about the secret to their longevity, a common answer is "good genes." However, according to a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine, studies of twins have found that only 25% of the variation in human life span can be attributed to genetics; 75% is attributed to modifiable biological and behavioral factors such as smoking, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and exercise.

According to a study conducted by Laurel B. Yates, MD, MPH, of Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston, and colleagues, "Smoking, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension significantly reduced the likelihood of a 90-year life span, while regular vigorous exercise substantially improved it." The researchers estimate that a 70-year-old man who did not smoke and had normal blood pressure and weight, no diabetes, and exercised two to four times per week had a 54% probability of living to age 90. Adverse factors such as sedentary lifestyle, hypertension, obesity, smoking, three of the preceding factors, or five of the preceding factors reduced that probability to 44%, 36%, 26%, 22%, 14%, and 4% respectively.

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