Secret of long life down to lifestyle.
The nature versus nurture debate has taken a twist after an American scientist discovered a long life is down to lifestyle.
Dr David Demko, who has served on two American government commissions investigating the effects of ageing, believes lifespan is determined by the four factors other than genetic inheritance.
They are - living a meaningful life, diet, exercise and an alert mind.
He has come up with a questionnaire which is based on an average life expectancy of 79, with years added or deducted depending on the answers.
Dr Demko said if your score is dismally low, it is not too late to change your lifestyle. But he warned, 'If you live longer you will have to worry about out living your money.
'Eighty per cent of the factors that control how long you live are related to your lifestyle not your genes.'
He said genetic inheritance gave people a head start.
The life expectancy for older people has increased dramatically in recent years.
By 2002, men who reached 65 could expect to live to 81, while women could expect to live to 84.
Joan Phillips, 74, is secretary of the Monmouthshire Pensioners' Forum, and believes it is common sense that leading a happy life increases life expectancy.
She said, 'I think the more stable the life you lead, the longer you will live.
'I would think doing this is a good basis for a long life.
'It is true that when you are young there are temptations, and there are lots of temptations around today.
'I have succumbed to temptations, I used to smoke when I was younger and gave up when I was 40, I thought it was a bit daft to be breathing in smoke.'