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Why Do Some People Live Longer than Others?

Why Do Some People Live Longer than Others?

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Shelley Osterloh Reporting How long we live may be partially a result of our economic well-being. In this segment of "U to You" we take a look at the field of Geriatrics -- the branch of medicine that deals with the problems and diseases of old age.

Why do some people live so much longer than others? Dr. Gerald Rothstein, chief of geriatrics medicine at the U says it can probably be reduced to two non-healthcare issues.

Gerald Rothstein, M.D., University Health Care: "Number one, you need to pick the right parents, and number two you have to have enough financial resources to give you access to nutrition, health care and information."

When it comes to picking the right parents maybe it's more important to just pick the right mom.

Gerald Rothstein, M.D., University Health Care: "There's some evidence that it may be particularly be maternal inherited. So your mother really may be the person who is most important, in genetically confirming longevity to you."

Aging, it appears, can frequently be reversible. For example, Dr. Rothstein says anemia can be controlled by telling the body to make more blood cells by administering a natural chemical called Erythropoletin.

Gerald Rothstein, M.D., University Health Care: "Well, it turns out the bone marrow of older people is exquisitely responsive to Erythropoletin, but the body doesn't manufacture it the way it should. And that's a very good piece of news, because it means we can take these older people who are anemic and administer Erythropoletin to them, anemia goes away and they feel better."

So, most people in the business of geriatrics don't necessarily look to extend life, they look toward the reduction of disease. Apparently that elusive "Fountain of Youth" is coming our way from another direction, quality not quantity.

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