Genetics also play a significant role. The landmark New England Centenarian Study, begun in 1995, identified genetic markers associated with those living past 100. The researchers, led by Dr. Thomas Perls, a professor of medicine and geriatrics at Boston University School of Medicine, found that these markers over all were 61 percent accurate in predicting who hits 100.
“The genetic component is a factor in 40 percent to 50 percent of people who make it to 100,” Dr. Perls said, “and 70 percent for those reaching 106, but it’s like winning the lottery. Only one in 5,000 Americans make it to the century mark.”