Washingtonians who live in a particular environment are more likely to live to their 100th birthday, according to a recent study. It also found that socioeconomic status also correlated with the probability of reaching centenarian age.

The study also revealed that the geographic clusters where the probability of celebrating their 100th birthday is high are located in the urban areas and smaller towns with higher socioeconomic status such as the Seattle area and the region around Pullman, Wash.

“Our study adds to the growing body of evidence that social and environmental factors contribute significantly to longevity,” Rajan Bhardwaj, one of the study authors and a second-year Washington State University medical student told MedicalXpress.

"We know from previous research that you can modify, through behavior, your susceptibility to different diseases based on your genetics," Ofer Amram, the study's senior author and an assistant professor who runs WSU's Community Health and Spatial Epidemiology (CHaSE) lab told MedicalXpress.

Living in an environment that supports healthy aging impacts a person’s ability to successfully beat their genetic odds through lifestyle changes. There was a gap in knowledge as to the environmental factors that support to centenarian age.

The study:

The researchers looked at state-provided data about the deaths of almost 145,000 Washingtonians who died at age 75 or older in the period 2011 to 2015.

The data also included information pertaining to their age, place of residence at the time of death, their gender, race, educational qualification as well as the marital status.

Key Findings:

  • Neighborhood, walkability, higher socioeconomic status and a high percentage of working-age populations were positively associated with the ability to reach the centenarian status
  • Mixed-age communities are highly beneficial for everyone involved
  • Growing urban centers toward making streets more walkable, make exercise more accessible to older adults
  • Neighborhoods that offer more age diversity tend to belong from urban areas and older adults are more likely to experience less isolation and better community support
  • Being white is correlated with living to 100 years
  • Women were more likely to reach their centenarian ages

“This study demonstrated that several social and environmental factors were associated with becoming a centenarian in Washington State based on mortality data from 2011−2015 for individuals over 75. These factors included neighborhood walkability, education level, marital status, sex, socioeconomic status, and the percent of the population that was of working age. More research into this important subject is required,” concluded the researchers in their paper published in Environmental Research and Public Health.

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