Universities in Kyoto, Aomori to probe contrasting longevity


Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine and Hirosaki University will launch a survey in the Tango district in northern Kyoto Prefecture to study the longevity of residents there.

The two universities will compare the results with data taken from similar surveys in Aomori Prefecture, which has the shortest life expectancy in the country. Hirosaki University is based in the Aomori city of Hirosaki.

“We don’t know for sure why there are many people with long life expectancies in the Tango district,” Satoaki Matoba, professor of cardiovascular medicine and nephrology at the prefectural university, told a news conference earlier this month.

If the joint survey reveals the secret of longevity in Tango, the universities want to pass it on to other regions, Matoba said.

The number of people aged 100 or over in the city of Kyotango in the Tango district stood at 83 as of January last year, some 2.8 times the national average.

This week, the Kyoto university began soliciting 500 Kyotango residents aged 65 or older to take part in the survey.

Participants will have a free health checkup once every two years at a city-run hospital to probe 2,000 factors, including those related to blood pressure, the intestinal environment and genes.

From fiscal 2018, the university plans to solicit another 500 residents in three neighboring municipalities — the city of Miyazu and the towns of Ine and Yosano.It will cover a total of 1,000 residents in the survey, planning to track their health over 15 years.

Meanwhile, Hirosaki University has conducted annual health checkups in the Iwaki area of Hirosaki that covered 1,000 citizens aged 20 or older since 2005.

Aomori Prefecture had the worst average life expectancy in the country for both men and women in three quinquennial surveys by the health ministry through 2010, at 77.28 years for men and 85.34 years for women.

On possible reasons for the short life expectancy of people in Aomori, Shigeyuki Nakaji, specially appointed professor of the Hirosaki University Graduate School of Medicine, pointed to heavy drinking and smoking as well as obesity. But he added that the reasons should be examined in a comprehensive manner, citing the long life expectancy of people in Nagano Prefecture despite their high salt intake.