The extraordinary increase of the elderly in developed countries underscore the importance of studies on ageing and longevity and the need for the prompt spread of knowledge about ageing in order to satisfactorily decrease the medical, economic and social problems associated to advancing years, because of the increased number of individuals not autonomous and affected by invalidating pathologies. Centenarians are equipped to reach the extreme limits of human life span and, most importantly, to show relatively good health, being able to perform their routine daily life and to escape fatal age-related diseases. Thus, they are the best example of extreme longevity, representing selected people in which the appearance of major age-related diseases, such as cancer, and cardiovascular diseases among others, has been consistently delayed or escaped. To discuss the relevance of genetics and life style in the attainment of longevity, five papers mostly focused on Italian centenarians have been assembled in this series. The aim is to realize, through a" positive biology" approach (rather than making diseases the central focus of research, "positive biology" seeks to understand the causes of positive phenotypes, trying to explain the biological mechanisms of health and well-being) how to prevent and/or reduce elderly frailty and disability
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