Dr. Robert Butler


Dr. Robert Butler is widely credited with discovering and advancing the field of aging and gerontology. He died on July 4, 2010, at the age of 83 of acute leukemia, and less than two weeks before his death, he gave one of his final interviews to the Growing Bolder Radio Show.

Dr. Butler started fighting against age discrimination in 1968, even coining the word “ageism.” He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his first book, “Why Survive? Being Old in America.”

He went on to found the nation’s first gerontology department at a medical school at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center in 1982, he founded and served as the first director of the National Institute on Aging and he founded the International Longevity Center, where he worked until his death.

His final book is called “The Longevity Prescription,” and it maps out eight proven keys to a long and healthy life.

In our interview, Dr. Butler said one of the most important pieces of research to be discovered in the past few years has to do with genes. Specifically, he said multiple studies have shown that genes only account for maybe 25 percent of your lifespan — that gives us 75 percent control over our own longevity.

“That’s good news because that’s power,” Dr. Butler said.

Another important key to a long life is our establishing connections or strong relationships with another person or a group of people. Dr. Butler says he believes one of the reasons women live longer than men is that women tend to be better than men at fostering intimate relationships. Dr. Butler said it’s so important to build and nurture social interactions or networks with others.

Dr. Butler said despite our advances in aging and longevity over the past several decades, he was very worried about the future of our nation. He said it’s time for Baby Boomers to wake up and become more politically active. Otherwise, he fears their elder years will be plagued by diseases, ill-trained doctors and poor living conditions because there are not enough people fighting for research and development.

Listen to our interview to find out Dr. Buter’s other secrets to a long life, and he also reveals why Americans need to start making drastic changes now in order to save their children’s and grandchildren’s lives.

Click here to watch the full video blog of Ruth Hamilton discussing curiosity and its effect on aging, which was featured in this interview.

And click on the Related Media tab above to listen to our 2008 interview with Dr. Butler.