While searching out interesting items for Tracing the Tribe, I came across this new study by Yeshiva University's Albert Einstein College of Medicine. It was published in the December 26, 2006 issue of Neurology.
Einstein's Institute for Aging Research director Dr. Nir Barzilai examined 158 people of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish descent; all age 95 or older. Those who possessed a particular gene variant were twice as likely to have good brain function based on a standard test of cognitive function. In short, the gene variant linked to living a long life - 90 and older - helps very old people think clearly and retain memories.
Centenarians were three times more likely to have this gene variant, known as CEPT VV, compared with a control group. According to the article, the gene affects the size of "good" HDL and "bad" LDL cholesterol.
The article goes on to suggest the process of how the gene protects the brain and helps people to resist disease.
However, I do wonder why Sephardic centenarians were not tested. Many such studies include very few or no individuals of Sephardic descent.
While this article seems to say this is an Ashkenazi gene variant, Sephardim were not included. Centenarians in that community likely possess the same variant, and such a study would show that the variant was a Jewish trait in general, not merely an Ashkenazi gene, as identified in this limited study.
Food for thought.