If, as Woody Allen’s Alvy Singer memorably complained, “Everything our parents said was good is bad. Sun, milk, red meat, college,” then for a certain group of really, really old Ashkenazic Jews, everything you thought was bad—drinking, smoking, and having genes that are the product of centuries of inbreeding—will actually help you live a long life. Cornell Medical College researchers will soon begin a study into the cells of about a dozen really, really old Ashkenazic Jews to try to unlock the secrets of their longevity. “The reason they live so long is not because they live healthy lives,” says one of the doctors, hilariously. “Interbreeding can have a negative impact, but, in this case, some families had the opposite effect. They don’t get cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegeneration or diabetes or very low rates.”
Lilly Port, a 98-year-old who is master of her bridge table in Scarsdale, is one of the subjects. “I limit my food intake, because I want to be able to fit into my clothes, but I’m in perfect health,” she says.
Another appropriate Woody Allen line: “I recently turned sixty. Practically a third of my life is over.”
Bouncing Bubbes of New York [NY Post]