It’s the Holy Grail of mortality research: more than 14,000 filled-out questionnaires by residents of a retirement community outside of Los Angeles from 1981.
When Dr. Claudia Kawas, a neurologist and professor at UC Irvine discovered it, she began compiling and analyzing the data–which describes each person’s habits of diet, activity, vitamins, and more–with a team of researchers. They also tracked down every person who took the decades-old survey who is still alive today to answer the question that so many of us have fretted over: What is the secret to a long and happy life?
Living to 90 and beyond (Part one)
The answers that Dr. Kawas and her team got were often surprising.
For example, supplementary vitamins did not seem to have any impact on longevity. The researchers looked at Vitamin E, A, C, and calcium.
“The short answer is none of ’em made a difference,” Dr. Kawas tells Leslie Stahl of 60 Minutes.
And then there’s alcohol. It turns out that a couple drinks a night could actually be good for you.
“Moderate alcohol was associated with living longer than individuals who did not consume alcohol,” says Dr. Kawas.
We tend to think that red wine is the best choice, but Dr. Kawas says it doesn’t seem to matter. Any type of booze will do just fine. (As long as it’s in moderation, of course.)
And when it comes to weight gain, those fad diets that we often commit to before swimsuit season just don’t apply to people later in life. In fact, weight gain can be a good thing.
“It’s not good to be skinny when you’re old,” Dr. Kawas says.
Watch the two-part 60 Minutes series below to learn more about the amazing research Dr. Kawas and her team are conducting as they get closer to solving the age-old mystery of why certain people live longer than others.
Living to 90 and beyond (Part two)
Have you or a relative lived past the 90-year mark? If so, what do you think has been the key to longevity?