Lifespan-wise, I had some good news and bad news today. After reading about the Eons web site in TIME’s “New tricks for living past 96” article, I answered the questions on their longevity calculator.
The article said, “the longevity calculator is what has given the website traction.” It must be popular, as it took a long time for their site to bring up a new page. After I clicked on the final button I was left in suspense for what seemed like, well, eons.
What if the calculator said that I’d likely only live to 58? I’m going to be that age in just five weeks. Should I order that convertible Mini and try to cram in as much living as possible pronto? I felt like my life was hanging by a slow-server thread.
Well, I would have gotten there if I hadn’t checked “no calcium supplements” (even though I drink orange juice and soy milk with extra calcium every day) and “do take iron supplement” (even though the amount in my daily vitamin is small and I don’t eat meat).
So with a little fudging that gets me 96.5 years. Great! I can wait a few more years before I start to seriously embrace my end-of-life crisis.
Which brings me to the bad news. Stupidly, today I also read a New York Times article: “Live Long? Die Young? Answer Isn’t Just in Genes.” The title seemed innocuous enough, but as I dug into the piece I began to feel less and less confident about my Eons-promised 95 year lifespan.
For scientists are learning that life is much more of a crap shoot than spuriously precise longevity calculators make it out to be. Identical twins, who share the same genetic heritage, on average die 10 years apart. Only 3 percent of how long you live compared to the average person can be explained by how long your parents lived. The article says:
The likely reason is that life span is determined by such a complex mix of events that there is no accurate predicting for individuals. The factors include genetic predispositions, disease, nutrition, a woman’s health during pregnancy, subtle injuries and accidents and simply chance events, like a randomly occurring mutation in a gene of a cell that ultimately leads to cancer.
The result is that old people can appear to be struck down for many reasons, or for what looks like almost no reason at all, just chance. Some may be more vulnerable than others, and over all, it is clear that the most fragile are likely to die first. But there are still those among the fragile who somehow live on and on. And there are seemingly healthy people who die suddenly.
Not so great. Damn the New York Times! My 95 years of promised life now looked a lot more precarious.
Oh, well. I’ll still try to slather on the sunscreen more regularly, which Eons says could add a quarter of a year to my life expectancy. That will balance out my continuing to drink caffeinated coffee. Supposedly this is chopping three months off of my lifespan, but I think Eons has its facts wrong here.
Anyway, I need somewhere to go when I get my convertible Mini. Cruising in to Starbucks for a non-fat grande vanilla latte on a warm sunny day with the top down sure seems like it’ll be life enhancing.
Now I just need to convince my wife of that. The convertible Mini part, I mean.