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Want to live to 100? A healthy lifestyle won't help, study finds

If you eat well, exercise regularly, don't smoke, and drink only in moderation, you've got a better chance of living longer, right?

Not so much, new research suggests.

Scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York found people who lived 95 years or more ate just as badly, were as likely to be overweight, exercised as little, and drank and smoked as much as the general population, according to The Telegraph.

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The study, which focused on nearly 500 Ashkenazi Jews between the ages of 95 and 109, determined their longevity comes down to their luck of being born with certain genes.

Researcher Prof. Nir Barzilai explained that his findings bolstered the idea that "longevity genes" help buffer the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle.

The Telegraph says he interviewed a 109-year-old woman, who said she smoked 40 cigarettes daily for 90 years, a practice that would likely have led to fatal heart disease or lung cancer in others.

But Prof. Barzilai warned that these findings don't mean people should abandon their healthy habits. The newspaper reports he was horrified when, after revealing his research, a man he encountered vowed he would never exercise again because his grandmother had lived to 102.

"Although this study demonstrates that centenarians can be obese, smoke and avoid exercise, those lifestyle habits are not good choices for most of us who do not have a family history of longevity," Prof. Barzilai emphasized.

There are, of course, other important reasons to keep your weight in check, avoid smoking and to exercise regularly. Even if you don't live to 100, doing so will at least help you live in good health for all the years you do have.

Do longevity genes run in your family?

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