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World-class scientists to lecture at longevity conference

By: David Knickerbocker

Date Posted: 2001-11-02

A very important event will be held at the venue of the G-8 Summit called Bankoku Shinryo Kan in Nago City, Nov. 12 - 13. The Okinawa International Conference on Longevity (OICL) will be held for the first time, and many well-known scientists will gather to participate in a series of round table discussions, lectures, scientific poster sessions, oral presentations, and symposiums.

There are many reasons why Okinawa is the most appropriate venue for such a conference. While Japan leads the world in average life expectancy, Okinawans are the longest living of Japanese. In fact, in 1995, the life expectancy of those in mainland Japan was 79.9 years, while it was 80.6 years in Okinawa. Also, Okinawa is ranked number one in the world with the lowest mortality rates of cancer, stroke, and coronary heart disease.

Okinawa has also the highest concentration of centenarians (those older than 100 years old) in the world with 30 centenarians to every 100,000 people. Much research has been done on the factors that lead Okinawans into such long life. Many scientists who have researched this issue will speak at the conference which promises to be an eye-opening event -- one that may very well advance the world's ideas of healthy living.

On August 28, 2001, a large team of scientists led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, Louis M. Kunkel and Thomas Perls of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard University, reported the results of a study of 308 long-lived people in the journal of the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences. This research found that human genes in chromosome 4 are highly suggestive of human longevity genes. Soon after, almost all major newspapers in the world printed the finding. Thomas Perls, MD, was one of the scientists who participated in the research. A physician, researcher, and assistant professor of Harvard University, Perls is also the founder and director of the New England Centenarian Study that focuses on geriatrics/gerontology research work on the oldest people of the New England Tri-State area. Thomas Perls will be one of five keynote speakers and is the co-author of “Living to 100: Lessons in Living to Your Maximum Potential.” Dr. Bradley Willcox, a physician and researcher also with Harvard University and co-author of “Okinawa Program,” a book discussing the Okinawan centenarians and healthy living, together with his twin brother, Dr. Craig Willcox and Dr. Makoto Suzuki will also present their research on Okinawan centenarians at the conference. Dr. Andrew Weil, another keynote speaker, has been listed as one of the 20 most influential people in the United States. He will speak on “Integrative Medicine and Successful Aging” during this two day event.

Also, there will be a cultural presentation associated with Okinawan longevity with special guest performers including a 99-year old Okinawan violinist and a 90-year old Okinawan sanshin master as well as many other surprises.

The objective of the conference is to promote academic exchanges and dialogues on the fields of successful aging, health, and longevity, and to share the secrets of Okinawan longevity.

Topics discussed at the OICL include: The "Secrets" of Okinawan Longevity; Integrative Medicine and Aging; Biological Sciences and Aging; Clinical Medicine; Lifestyle, Nutrition and Successful Aging; Behavioral and Social Sciences and Aging; and a symposia relating to successful aging.

A total of 35 scientists, researchers, physicians, and educators from 10 different countries will participate in the presentations, and Dr. David Itokazu, chairman of OICL, will present his paper on "Okinawan longevity as a model of wellness in the world." Fantastic research is certainly being done on the issue of longevity and it will be interesting to hear the findings of these scientists. For more information on the Okinawa International Conference on Longevity, such as biographies of many of the keynote speakers and other interesting points, visit the OICL website at www.oic-longevity.wwma.net or call Remi Ie at 098-859-7789. The deadline for local registration for the event is Nov. 5 and the fee is ¥17,500. This special reduced fee is for all foreigners residing in Japan and includes a welcome dinner on the first night, lunch for two days, a refreshment break, and conference materials. For more information, call the above phone number or fax 098-859-7663.

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