Can friendship make you live longer?

According to the UN, by 2050, the number of over 60s is expected to double – however, when examining the cause of this, scientists are beginning to realise that diet and exercise are not the only factors.

In the latest episode of Vital Signs with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN International, the programme hears that science is showing our social lives are just as important to living a longer life.


The programme reports from Tiana in Sardinia, Italy, which is home to male residents who are 10 times more likely to reach the age of 100 than the rest of Italy. CNN hears that studies are being undertaken in the UK and Italy that examine whether socialising, relationships and avoiding loneliness are directly connected to an increase in life expectancy.

According to Doctor Gianni Pes, there are four regions in the world characterised by longevity – Japan, Costa Rica, Greece and Sardinia, a term he has coined as ‘Blue Zones’, which is used to identify villages with demographics like Tiana.

Vital Signs also heads to a new retirement home in South London which combines one of the UK’s largest care centres with a nursery school. The project is the first of its kind in the country and allows the children to work and play with the residents every day.

The project initially began as an attempt to bridge the age divide but instead has injected a new lease of life into the residents, many of which suffer with advanced levels of dementia, by encouraging them to engage with the children and forgetting their own physical limitations.

Dr. Pes explains why studies have now moved beyond analysing diet and health to other factors by confirming that “20 years ago everyone was convinced that the explanation was genetic. The Sardinian population is well known for a gap in the genetic background because we have an isolated population, so we have explored many genetics, but I was disappointed. Now I learnt to move to a broader approach, adopting a multidisciplinary approach.”

Related videos:

Is having a social life the answer to longevity?
The nuns devoted to understanding Alzheimer’s
Ending the age of elderly apartheid:

Credits: CNN / CNN’s Vital Signs

Vital Signs with Dr. Sanjay Gupta airs on CNN International at the following times:

  • Saturday 3rd February at 0630 GMT, 1230 GMT, 1930 GMT
  • Sunday 4th February at 0630 GMT, 1230 GMT, 1930 GMT

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s