You may have heard today that average life-expectancy gains for Americans are rising at a slower pace than those in many other developed nations. The grim news, which came from a report from the National Research Council, was somewhat surprising considering that the U.S. spends more on health care than any other nation; smoking and obesity rates are largely to blame.
In addition to making me want to drink a pot of green tea and get to the gym more often, the report got me craving some encouraging news. So I contacted Eswar Krishnan, MD, who recently launched a study that aims to unlock the secrets of those people who live long - and age well. “The National Research Council report is similar to our research," he told me, "but what we are hoping to do is a little more biologically based as opposed to epidemiology based."
For his National Institute on Aging-sponsored study, Krishnan and colleagues are gathering detailed information from participants about their lifestyle, such as exercise habits and alcohol consumption, and taking blood samples. The goal, according to Krishnan:
We hope to identify biomarkers, for example the amount of some particular protein present in blood, that are associated with frailty versus robust health at different ages ranging from 40 to 90. Finding these biomarkers will help us define what’s normal.
Then we can begin to understand if people have robust health later on in life because they have good health habits, meaning they don't smoke, eat a good diet, exercise and drink in moderation. Or, if it's because their immune system operates a certain way and they are better at fighting off infections and disease.
Krishnan and colleagues are seeking up to 700 healthy participants between the ages of 40 and 90. Interested people can call (877) 817-2502 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.