Health and Old Age Places with High Longevity: Hunza Pakistan Part 1

About the area of Hunza in Pakistan which has a high level of longevity.

A Guide to Shangri-La: The Leading Longevity Sites on Earth

HUNZA

Location. Hunza is located in a remote valley some 200 mi. long but only one mi. wide. It is situated at an elevation of 8,500' and is completely enclosed by mountain peaks. These peaks soar as high as 25,550' and belong to the Karakoram Range, broadly known in the West as "the Himalayas" or the "Roof of the World." Situated in the far northeast of Pakistan, it is only a stone's throw from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, India, Afghanistan, Soviet Russia, and China. The valley's only access is through Rawalpindi, Pakistan's new capital. From there a 45-minute plane ride takes you due north 375 mi. to Gilgit. This trip involves some of the world's most hazardous flying conditions, as the small plane must negotiate treacherous mountain passes. Although you are now only 68 mi. from Baltit, the village capital of Hunza, the rest of the trip used to require 3 days and had to be made by mule, shanks' mare, and finally--for the drop down from a height of 16,000' into the valley--by jeep. Today, the entire 68 mi. can be covered in only 3 hours on the new Karakoram Highway.

Longevity. The longevity claims made for Hunzukuts by foreign visitors vary considerably, with the highest estimate being 150 years of age. Renee Taylor writes in her book Hunza Health Secrets for Long Life and Happiness: "In Hunza, people manage to live to over 100 years of age in perfect mental and physical health . . . men of 90 [are] new fathers and women of 50 still conceive." Betty Lee Morales, president of the American Cancer Society and a 2-time visitor to Hunza, reported to the Los Angeles Times (July 16, 1973), "It's an exaggeration to say that they live to be 150 but there's no need to gild the lily. The average age is 90 when they die." Dr. Alexander Leaf, Chief of Medical Services at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School, has reliably reported meeting a 106-year-old man who still worked herding goats during the summer months, while "the oldest Hunzukut" was "revered" for being 110. Dr. Leaf also has pointed out that it is "the fitness of many of the elderly rather than their age that impresses me," and he has noted that no written records of births or deaths were then kept in Hunza. According to the Mir of Hunza, out of a present population of 40,000, 6 men are over 100 years of age and many are 90 years old or more. (Before the 1st road came, there were at least 50 over the age of 100.) In America, by contrast, there are only 3 centenarians for every 100,000 people.

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