Buettner touts Vitality Project on CNN.com

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Best-selling author and Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner continued to spread his research about longevity on Monday during a CNN webcast with medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sharing expertise next to geneticist and Cambridge University aging expert Aubrey de Grey, Buettner also talked about Albert Lea’s Vitality Project and its successes.

The webcast is part of Gupta’s global health show “Vital Signs.”

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About 24 minutes into the segment, Buettner expanded on the 10-month pilot project in Albert Lea, that went from January through October.

He said the Vitality Project brought about small environmental changes including connecting sidewalks, gathering people in groups of five to foster new relationships, changing policies in the schools and helping participants find their purpose.

These changes — and others — added up to an average of three years life expectancy for each participant.

“There’s no one silver bullet,” Buettner said. “It’s the sum of a number of small things that could add up to another 10 years of life expectancy.”

One CNN reader asked what the common threads were for people who have lived long lives.

Buettner said the more red meat that can be cut out of a person’s diet, the less chance that person has of getting cardiovascular disease or cancer. People should also think about who they hang out with and mindfully take 15 minutes a day to downshift.

He noted people who are religious live four to 14 years longer than people who aren’t, and people who live in inner cities are usually less likely to be overweight.

These tips, and others, Buettner said, can help people “stack their deck” for when breakthroughs come on regenerative technology like what is researched by geneticists like de Grey.

The geneticist, the chief scientific officer of SENS Foundation, which researches and promotes regenerative medicine, said techniques such as stem cell therapy, gene therapy and tissue engineering could one day let humans live for hundreds of years.

“The real advantage of applying regenerative medicine to the problem of aging is that we can actually turn the biological clock backwards,” he said on the site.

“We can take people who are already middle aged, or perhaps older, and turn them back to having a lower biological age.”

To view the full webcast, click here. It can also be found by going to cnn.com and then clicking on the “Living Well” tab. The segment is titled “Tips to add years to your life.”