SOURCE: King's College London, news release, June 24, 2015
THURSDAY, June 25, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Men are less likely than women to reach 100, but those who do tend to be healthier than their female peers, a new study finds.
Although women are four times more likely than men to hit 100, they are more likely to suffer broken bones or develop more than one chronic health problem, such as incontinence or loss of vision or hearing, the British researchers said. Men had fewer chronic ailments.
"We found a surprising number of 100-year-olds who had no major illnesses," study author Nisha Hazra, of King's College London, said in a university news release. "However, as the number of people living to 100 continues to increase, it's very important to understand the evolving health care needs of the oldest old. This will help to accurately project health care cost associated with the aging population."
The researchers analyzed public health records of more than 11,000 centenarians in the U.K. to investigate the main health issues affecting these older people, such as diabetes, stroke, cancer and arthritis. The researchers also examined age-related health risks, including falls, dementia, broken bones and vision issues.
The number of women living to 100 increased by 50 percent between 1990 and 2013, the study found, compared to a 30 percent increase among men.
The study was published June 22 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
All of the centenarians were more likely to have chronic, nonfatal issues such as arthritis than more serious diseases such as cancer or diabetes, the study found.
These findings suggest that older people may rely more heavily on medical services in the future, which could have a dramatic effect on health care costs, the authors said. They noted that more research is needed to understand why some people reach very old age without serious health problems and some don't.
"Future research should focus on understanding these implications to help develop health care services," said Hazra.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging provides more on healthy aging and longevity.