The island where people forget to die

October 26, 2012

Ikaria (credit: Man77/Wikimedia Commons)

For a decade, with support from the National Geographic Society, I’ve been organizing a study of the places where people live longest, Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zoneswrites in The New York Times.

The project grew out of studies by my partners, Dr. Gianni Pes of the University of Sassari in Italy and Dr. Michel Poulain, a Belgian demographer. In 2000, they identified a region of Sardinia’s Nuoro province as the place with the highest concentration of male centenarians in the world.

Social structure might turn out to be more important. In Sardinia, a cultural attitude that celebrated the elderly kept them engaged in the community and in extended-family homes until they were in their 100s. Studies have linked early retirement among some workers in industrialized economies to reduced life expectancy.

If you pay careful attention to the way Ikarians have lived their lives, it appears that a dozen subtly powerful, mutually enhancing and pervasive factors are at work. …

The Second Edition of The Blue Zones will be released Nov. 6 2012.