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Kiwi doctor says to take US longevity research with a 'grain of salt'

A Kiwi doctor says the findings of a major study into aging by the University of California should be taken with a "grain of salt".

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The University of California has spent more than two decades researching longevity. Source: Seven Sharp

The university has spent more than two decades researching longevity in its “90+ Study”.

The study has been following residents at a retirement community in Orange County.

Some of the major findings are:

• People who drank moderate amounts of alcohol or coffee lived longer than those who abstained.

• People who were overweight in their 70s lived longer than normal or underweight people did.

• Over 40 per cent of people aged 90 and older suffer from dementia while almost 80 per cent are disabled. Both are more common in women than men.

Before you reach for the wine and the scorched almonds, Seven Sharp got a doctor on the show to give some perspective on all of this.

Dr Mataroria Lyndon from Tend Medical says moderation is the key.

“The study might suggest for some to put on the pounds and have a few more drinks – but of course the devil is in the detail when it comes to research finding and there is good evidence alcohol can increase the risk of cancer,” he said.

Lyndon says the research needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

“There is some limitation to the study which was conducted on a US population and might not necessarily relate to New Zealanders.

“I think the key thing the research suggests is that as you age you don’t want to be underweight as you need reserves if you become unwell," he said.