April 1, 2008 — -- Take a guess. How many people are at least 100 years old in the United States? Would you believe more than 84,000 and climbing at an astonishing rate? By the time America's baby boomers reach that milestone, there could be more than a million centenarians.
My new special, "Live to Be 150 ... Can You Do It?" takes you way beyond nips and tucks, Botox and exercise, but rather to the cutting edge of the search for a longer, healthy life.
What you will see could not have happened just a few years ago. Whether you're 20, 40 or 60 years old, living well past 100 could actually be possible.
Over the last two years, I have talked to some of the world's top scientists, who told me about cutting edge breakthroughs in our understanding of how the body ages.
And they showed me how they are already growing human body parts in the lab for implantation into people. The heart research lab at the University of Minnesota took just a few days to grow a living, beating rat heart from stem cells. Amazing.
I also spoke with two scientists in Boston who say that in the next five years, they plan to have a drug on the market that will treat several of the major diseases of aging. This drug is based on the "good stuff" in red wine called resveratrol.
I also dined with a group of calorie restrictors. They weigh and measure every morsel of food they put in their bodies -- and consume 30 percent fewer calories than the average American. These calorie restrictors claim they have incredible energy and improved eyesight and memory. Experts say this is the only proven way to extend life.
And if you are feeling a little apprehension about living longer and longer, don't worry. I met a group of people who have all reached the age of at least 100. And it's not just lucky genes because genes account for only 25 percent of how long we live.
So at 100, could you still drive? Will romance be more than just a sweet memory? The stories of these remarkable centenarians will inspire you and just might calm your fears about getting old.
The special also explores secrets to aging gracefully and living life to its fullest, from the 83-year-old actor turned race car driver Paul Newman, and Carmen, the oldest working fashion model.
And what about the implications of a longer life? Can you imagine being married to the same person for 100 years? Well, if we live much longer than a century, our relationships, our spending habits, our retirement plans are bound to undergo sweeping changes. I asked the "Freakonomics" author, Stephen Dubner, if it will ever be cool to be old.
This is what he said: "I'll say that there will come a time when being old is cooler than being young, because what being old will represent is power, it will represent money. It will represent having survived. It will represent wisdom. You know it's a prediction I'd like to make."
On that optimistic note, and with the hope that we're all going to be around for many years to come, I wish you a long, healthy life.