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California's oldest person helping geneticists uncover key to aging

What's the secret to living to 100 - and beyond? Researchers at UCLA and Stanford are trying to find out, and they're turning to California's oldest resident, 110-year-old Soledad Mexia, for some help. As reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune, Mexia is the first of several supercentenarians to have their human genome mapped as part of a study on aging:

Early last month [L. Stephen Coles, MD, PhD, co-founder of the Gerontology Research Group, and Stanford genetist Stuart Kim, PhD,] descended on the Mexia household, where five generations of her family had gathered, to draw blood and take hair samples.

They will look for evidence of genes that protect her body from the common killers - heart disease, cancer and stroke. They’ll also examine a specific gene linked to premature death.

Though Mexia may be blessed with some sort of longevity gene, her lifestyle habits could have played a role in getting her to triple digits. She say she sticks to a healthy diet - starting each day with a protein drink - and she doesn't smoke.

Previously: Researchers identify "genetic signatures" of longevity

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