Islamabad - An exceptionally long lifespan does not necessarily mean living more years with disease and disability. It seems that centenarians tend to live their extra years in good health, with illness striking decades later in life compared with younger counterparts.

The study finds that unlike counterparts decades younger, people who live exceptionally long lives have a much shorter period of illness that is compressed into just months or weeks at the end of their lifespan. This was the conclusion researchers came to after examining the health status of 3,000 centenarians and near-centenarians taking part in two ongoing longevity studies.

The study was led by Nir Barzilai, a professor of medicine and of genetics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY.

Although centenarians make up only a small proportion of the world’s population, their share is growing.

In 1990, there were 2.9 people aged 100 and over for every 10,000 people aged 65 and older around the world. By 2015, that share had grown to 7.4 and is expected to reach 23.6 by 2050.

In the United States, there are estimated to be 2.2 centenarians per 10,000 people, or about 72,000 in total.

However, while at 61,000, Japan has fewer centenarians in total than the US. It has 4.8 per 10,000, the highest proportion in the world, closely followed by Italy at 4.1.

But does the fact more people are living exceptionally long lives mean they will live those extra years in poor health?

To examine this question, Prof Barzilai and colleagues looked at the health status of centenarians and near-centenarians taking part in the Longevity Genes Project (LGP) and the New England Centenarian Study (NECS).

The team has been conducting the LGP since 1998. The study recruits healthy, Ashkenazi Jewish people aged 95 and older living independently in the northeastern US. For comparison, the cohort includes younger seniors and individuals with and without a family history of longevity.

The NECS began in 1994 as a study of centenarians living near Boston, MA, and has since expanded to cover individuals from further afield in North America, England, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. This study also includes seniors under the age of 95 for comparison.

For their investigation, Prof Barzilai and colleagues compared the health of long-lived (age 95 and over) against younger seniors (age around 60-95) in both the LGP and the NECS.

From the LGP data, they compared 483 people with exceptional longevity against 696 younger seniors, and from the NECS data, they compared 1,498 long-lived people with 302 younger counterparts.

In both the LGP and the NECS populations, the team looked at the ages when participants developed five age-related major health problems or diseases: cancer, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and stroke.

The researchers found in both groups that onset of illness was consistently delayed in the centenarians, compared with younger seniors.

In the NECS group, cancer did not begin to affect 20 percent of the long-lived men until age 97, and long-lived women until 99. In comparison, among the younger seniors, 20 percent of the men got cancer by age 67 and women by age 74.

Caffeine ‘can make temporary

hearing loss permanent’ 

A coffee may seem like just the trick to soothe your head after a night clubbing or wailing along to a concert. But that all-important latte could have a devastating impact on your hearing, a new study claims. According to research by McGill University, daily consumption of caffeine blocks the ears from recovering after temporary hearing damage.

Ears usually recover from exposure to construction nooise, loud music or airplane sound within 72 hours. However, experts at McGill warn regular coffee could hamper that recovery - even making the damage permanent.

Daily consumption of caffeine blocks the ears from recovering after temporary hearing damage, a study says.

‘Our research confirmed that exposure to loud auditory stimuli coupled with daily consumption of 25mg/kg of caffeine had a clear negative impact on hearing recovery,’ says Dr Faisal Zawawi, an Otolaryngologist and member of the McGill Auditory Sciences Laboratory.

‘When the ear is exposed to loud noise, it can suffer from a temporary hearing reduction, also called auditory temporary threshold shift.

‘This disorder is usually reversible in the first 72 hours after the exposure, but if symptoms persist, the damage could become permanent.’

Dr Zawawi’s team tested the theory on animals, exposing them to a sound of 110 dB - similar to the noise of loud concert - for one hour. Half the animals had a daily dose of caffeine, the other half had no caffeine.

After the first day, there was no difference between the two groups’ hearing recoveries.

But after eight days of tests, the group consuming regular doses of caffeine showed significant hearing impairment compared to the other half.

The maximum recommended intake of caffeine is 3mg/kg a day - the same as three 8oz cups of coffee. Many sodas wildly exceed that guideline, containing more than 200mg per can.

Ears usually recover from exposure to construction nooise, loud music or airplane sound within 72 hours. However, experts warn regular coffee could hamper that recovery - even making the damage permanent.