Yes, there are ways to be grossly unhealthy, but it turns out that genes and luck have a huge determining factor in how long you get to kick around on this planet:

The study, appearing Aug. 3 in the online edition of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, followed the lives of 477 Ashkenazi Jews between the ages of 95 and 112. They were enrolled in Einstein College’s Longevity Genes Project, an ongoing study that seeks to understand why centenarians live as long as they do. About 1 in 4,400 Americans lives to age 100, according to 2010 census data.

A research team led by Nir Barzilai compared these old folks with a group of people representing the general public, captured in a snapshot of health habits collected in the 1970s. The people in this control group were born around the same time as the 95-and-above study group, but they have since died.

The living, old people in the study were remarkably ordinary in their lifestyles, Barzilai said. By and large, they weren’t vegetarians, vitamin-pill-poppers or health freaks. Their profiles nearly matched that of the control group in terms of the percentage who were overweight, exercised (or didn’t exercise), or smoked. One woman, at age 107, smoked for over 90 years.

Whatever killed the control group — cardiovascular disease, cancer and other diseases clearly associated with lifestyle choices — somehow didn’t kill them. “Their genes protected them,” Barzilai said.

For everyone out there bitching that enhancement and genetic engineering threaten equality, I ask you: how is it a threat to equality if more people have a chance to have genes that allow longevity? Just curious.