3 February 2014
Reaction Paper #2: Puzzle of the Century
In a time where the threats of obesity, cardio vascular disease, osteoporosis and cancer are all too real, it’s nice to know that there is a population of folks who are beating the odds and living healthy, happy and independent lives well into their 100 years of age. Puzzle of the Century, an article from the Smithsonian written by Mary Duenwald, sheds light on the lives of some of these individuals, known as centenarians, and explains what the possible causes of the phenomena might be. On the argument of Nature Vs. Nurture, it seems that the explanation for the longevity and health of these centenarians leans towards the side of Nature.
Reading this article was very interesting and gave me a sense of joy. So much of what is read these days concerning health is scary. Scientists and doctors explain all the potential health risks that are posed once you reach a certain age and the actions and choices of youth that heighten these risks. The article explains different factors that are linked to the centenarian’s longevity and good health and they all seem to focus on genetics, DNA, and inheritance of the good genes. Although I may not be as lucky and healthy going into my old age, or able to avoid health issues as these centenarians do, it is still very cool to read an article that talks about a group of elderly who do not share the same health worries that most of the world does.
There is one part of the article that I found especially interesting, the stats mind blowing. At the end of page 19, Duenwald talks about a study done by Dr. Nir Barzilai explaining how he,
Has found that his research subjects – more than 200 Ashkenazi Jewish centenarians and their children – have abnormally high blood levels of high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, a.k.a. the “good” protein. The average woman has an HDL level of 55, he says, whereas the grown children of his centenarians have levels up to 140… He says...