Monday, December 18, 2006

Longevity of the People of Vilcabama Has Long Fascinated the Experts

Scientists, journalists and health enthusiasts have been coming to Vilcabamba, Ecuador for half a century in search of clues to what makes this out-of-the-way town so conducive to long life.

A scientific study decades ago found that nearly 15% of the residents lived past 60, compared with 4.5% in the rest of the country. Clean air, a mild climate, mineral-rich water, low-calorie diets and active work and sex lives are the factors most often cited.

But are fewer Vilcabambans reaching the magic 100 number these days?

That's the fear in this town of 4,500 that has built a reputation and a thriving health-based tourist trade on its residents' longevity. The number of people 100 or older has dropped to five from 10 to 12 in 2000, town official Victor Carpio said. The town has lost four centenarians this year.

Mountains of Vilcabamba

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