What's the secret of the centenarians? People who live beyond the age of 100 seem to have developed immunity to the standard causes of death, such as heart disease and cancer. Instead, they are dying from pneumonia or 'old age'.
Cancer is claiming the lives of fewer than 5 per cent of centenarians, while heart disease is responsible for 9 per cent of deaths. This compares with 25 per cent and 20 per cent respectively among the 80-year-olds.
Instead, the cause of death of 28 per cent of centenarians is listed as 'old age' while 20 per cent are caused by pneumonia.
Researchers from King's College London made the discovery when they analysed the death certificates of 36,000 people who died between the ages of 100 and 115. There are 13,000 centenarians in the UK, but this figure is expected to reach 500,000 by 2066.
(Source: PLOS Medicine, 2014; doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001653)