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Georgian centenarians

A television campaign in America for Dannon yogurt extolled the virtues of the product by attributing Georgian longevity to eating yogurt. Perhaps Madison Avenue didn't tell all, yet the centenarians in Georgia present a fascinating medical phenomenon that has attracted worldwide interest. In Tbilisi alone there are almost 100 people who are over 100 years old. The country as a whole claims 51 centenarians for every 100,000 inhabitants. Until the recent war in Abkhazia, longevity in that autonomous republic was particularly high. Indeed, the republic once sponsored a choir of centenarians that performed throughout Georgia.

Before Georgia's recent travails, the reasons for longevity could, perhaps, have been the cuisine and the pristine countryside. These made life worth living and living . . . and living. Whether this phenomenon will continue, however, remains to be seen, particularly considering the heavy cigarette smoking to which so many are addicted and their kamikaze tendencies behind the wheel.

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