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Memories of the 28th Century

Rates of aging

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Aging is a more interesting subject than critical judgment, so I'll forget the other one for now. Have you noticed that some people look old before they hit forty, while others look youthful into their seventies? Even more interesting, some parts of bodies age faster than others. We all know about telomers, but this link tells of methylation of genes, as part of the aging process in addition to stopping the activity of genes, and it also tells of differential aging rates. Apparently my observations about the apparent age of some people is more generally applicable than I was thinking.

I have observed, as you surely have also, that many chronic alcoholics appear to be much older than do people who are not subject to that affliction. I am not saying that there is a cause and effect relationship there, nor am I saying that isn't one. It is just as likely that there is a single underlying cause for both. It wouldn't surprise me if for some people that alcohol functions as a preservative; that they would age faster without it.

There are people who donít seem to abuse their bodies who also look much older than their years. I donít presume to interrogate them about the matter, but I suspect that it is largely genetic. As I understand it, there are certain nations that traditionally had rather short lives, Egyptians for one, and there are people who traditionally lived relatively long Andorrans, the people of Vilcamba Valley in Ecuador, the Hunzas in Pakistan, Abkhasians and Georgians, Macau in Southern China, and Okinawans are cited as the longest lived. Most of those people live in mountainous areas. The peoples with the shortest average life expectancies are in Africa, but I donít know whether that is related to poverty leading to poor medical facilitiesí or to genetic factors.

This came to mind, because of a joke site that gives the picture of a gravestone with your name on it and years born and died. Mine had me only lasting until 2072, so I know it is a joke. I ran into another site that claims to calculate oneís term of life. It only came up with 121.4 years for me, so it is a little on the low side, but it is much better than the calculators that insurance companies have of their sites. I havenít looked it up today, but in the past I have found articles about how it appears that 113 years are a sort of upper limit. People who are just fine often get to 113 and have multiple problems, but people who live beyond 113 sometimes live significantly longer.

The person who is known to have lived the longest was Jeanne Calment a French woman born February 21, 1875, died August 4, 1997 (122 years, 164 days). Then thereís the 160 year old Ethiopian, but there are no documents to show his age, and that is a problem that anyone would run into after a hundred fifty years, or so. There simply arenít reliable records very far back, and there would come a point when people would doubt that person A was really the same as the person mentioned in document B, and there would be no corroborating evidence. I remember reading an article about a woman who remembered a war in India that took place in the 1790ís. If she really did remember that, then she would have been about 200 years old, but there were no documents, and nothing to show that she had been alive before about 1900, but the photo with the story made her look more like 300 years old. The article was in the Lowell Sun sometime in the 1960's, so someone can dig through their archives.

The matter of documentation came up in regard to people in Georgia, many of whom claim relatively great ages, but it has been suggested that many of those fabricated evidence of birth in the hope of getting better pensions for a longer time. I donít know, but the last time I calculated it, the SSA will have to pay my pension for more than 140 years for me to recover everything plus interest.