Taking It Slow: What Turtles Can Teach Us about Living Longer

How do turtles and tortoises age differently from humans?

We know that as humans get older, their bone density, mobility, and flexibility decrease, and the probability of dying increases. In the turtle populations I’ve studied—especially the ones that live in captivity—their mortality rate can actually decrease with age. Some researchers have even hypothesized that turtles and tortoises could live forever if they managed to avoid predators and disease.

What makes that possible?

There’s a theory that links anti-aging in certain species to their ability to continue growing their entire lives. That includes turtles, most fish, and plants. The same mechanism that allows them to grow also allows them to restore cells throughout their bodies. It has been hypothesized that for this reason, they can avoid aging and possibly even contracting age-related diseases. Humans, however, stop allocating energy to growing, and our cells become damaged over time, making us more susceptible to illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

This is an interesting read from The Walrus. It is one of the few magazines for which I subscribe to the print copy as well – and it is worth every penny.

What do you do to live longer?