Oldest People Owe their Long Life to Genes

August 3, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. resident [REZ-i-duhnt] (n.) – a person who stays in a certain place for a long time
Example: Most residents in our town have been living here for more than two decades now.

2. homogeneous [hoh-muh-JEE-nee-uh s, -JEEN-yuh s, hom-uh-] (adj.) – same or alike
Example: Homogeneous genes have the same characteristics.

3. verify [VER-uh-fahy] (v.) – to make sure that something is true, accurate, or justified
Example: Recent experiments have verified the scientist’s hypothesis.

4. horrendous [haw-REN-duhs, ho-] (adj.) – extremely unpleasant
Example: She is suffering from horrendous illness due to unhealthy lifestyle.

5. promote [pruh-MOHT] (v.) – to encourage something to occur
Example: Experts promote a healthy diet for longer life.


Read the text below.
Dr. Tom Perls, a researcher from the Boston University Medical Center, claims that the genes may contribute to a human’s ability to live longer than the average life span.

According to the Guinness Book of World Record, a resident of Kyotango, Japan named Jiroemon Kimura was the oldest living person until his death last June this year. Other women from the 19th century are also still living today, such as the 115-year-old Misao Okawa who also lives in Japan.

People who have lived past their 110th birthday are called supercentenarians. With a few verified cases of supercentenarians today, Perls believes that a key genetic feature made these people reach a very old age. Perls says that supercentenarians seem to be homogeneous, meaning they have some kind of a common characteristic.

Another significant result of Perls’ study is that women, because they have two X chromosomes, generally live longer than men. According to Perls, these X chromosomes seem to protect women against diseases. Also, women who got pregnant naturally and in a full term after the age of 40 tend to live up to 100 years old.

For women, having two X chromosomes may also contribute to long life because these chromosomes somehow prevent women from getting sick.

Aside from these genetic factors, Perls also found that having a healthy lifestyle has a mixed effect to old people. Ironically, the study showed that 20% of the people aging 103 years and above have horrendous habits such as smoking and drinking.

With the said results, Perls suggested that not all supercentenarians can be role models. Instead, people should look for role models who promote longevity by eating healthy foods and maintaining a good social lifestyle.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

       Why do you think experts want to know why and how people can live longer?
       Aside from genetic factors, what other things do you think cause longer life? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

       How do you think people can live their lives to the fullest?
       Do you think people need to live very long in order to experience a satisfying life? Explain your answer.


August 3, 2013