One of the most important things about the Okinawa Centenarian Study is the fact that it is based on solid evidence. The most important evidence needed for any centenarian study is reliable age-verification data. Throughout Japan (including Okinawa prefecture), every city, town, and village records birth, marriage and death data (among other data) in a koseki (family register). This system was instituted throughout Japan in the 1870's. The koseki is supplemented by a regular census undertaken every five years. Life tables calculated from this database show one of the world's longest life expectancies and prevalence data show the world's highest known concentration of centenarians for any country or state. FOCUS AREAS AND FINDINGS
After examining over 900 Okinawan centenarians and numerous other elderly in their seventies, eighties, and nineties, some fascinating findings have emerged. One, genetic factors appear important to human longevity, including Okinawan longevity. Two, it has also become clear that the Okinawan lifestyle provides many reasons why older Okinawans are so remarkably healthy so far into their senior years. Discovering the reasons for the apparent genetic and environmental advantages could have an important impact on our health and well-being in the West. Below appear some of the key findings and what they mean in terms of healthy aging -- for the Okinawans, and the rest of us. 1. Genetics, Healthy Aging and Longevity
Identifying factors that help us remain healthy, vigorous and disability-free at older ages is one of our major research priorities. Since the completion of the Human Genome Project and the HapMap Project (a project to identify common variations in human genes), a promising novel strategy by some human longevity researchers is to try to identify genes (and variations of those genes) that impact human aging and longevity. If such genes and their genetic pathways can be identified then novel therapies...
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