How long would you like to live? Welcome to the Blue Zone …

“Four areas of the world have been designated as Blue Zones by scientists: Okinawa island in Japan, parts of central-eastern Sardinia, the Nicoya peninsula in northwestern Costa Rica, and the Greek island of Ikaria.

Certain traits link most of these areas, where exceptional longevity has been proven. First, most of the populations have been isolated for long periods due to their geography or other reasons, which in some cases led to inbreeding between distant family members, possibly helping certain genetic variants that favour longevity to be passed on from generation to generation.

The insularity of these communities could explain some delays in socio-economic development, researchers have found, making them relatively poorer than other nearby communities and delaying the onset of capitalism. Other similar characteristics include high quality food (though not necessarily abundant), physically-active lifestyles, and a prevailing attitude of collectivist rather than individualistic thinking. The latter, in turn, has limited the onset of high stress levels in the communities, researchers said. Finally, the four communities all exhibit strong social cohesion, a fact that potentially allows older people to still feel like they are an important part of society.

Gianni Pes, the Sardinian scientist who helped coin the term Blue Zone, is not convinced there is any such thing as a “longevity gene” that sets the populations apart. For one, there are genetic differences between the populations of the 14 towns that comprise the Sardinian Blue Zone, suggesting other factors – like environment and diet – may play a bigger role than just genetics.”

This is an extract from a feature in today’s “Guardian” newspaper looking ay why certain parts of the world have clusters of people who live exceptionally long lives.  There are all sorts of theories and the latest approach to the mystery involves trying to identify a specific gene.

One Comment

  • Mavis

    I think quality of life is more important than longevity.

    However those people in the ‘Blue’ (and that is a strange word to use as apart from colour, we generally use it for feeling a ‘bit off’) Zones perhaps have a good quality of life.


XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>