ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – 78.6. That is the number of years the average American can expect to live to, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. But a new study out of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health finds that adopting some healthy lifestyle through adulthood can add a decade more to your life.
Did you know that Americans have a shorter average life span than almost any other high-income country? We rank 43rd in the world for life expectancy. Harvard researchers studied 34 years of data from over 78,000 women and 27 years of data from 44,000 men to find what could boost longevity in the U.S.
Jose Santana, MD, MPH, an internal medicine physician told Ivanhoe, “We learned that we can focus more on personal habits; personal habits, which include lifestyle.”
Lifestyle habits that can add years to your life: not smoking, having a low body mass index, doing 30 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous exercise a day, moderate alcohol intake and a healthy diet.
“Something that is well-balanced, where there’s plenty of natural foods, plenty of vegetables,” detailed Dr. Santana.
Men who adopted all five healthy lifestyles added 12 years to their life, while women who did the same added 14 years, compared to those who didn’t maintain healthy habits. The study also found that both men and women who stuck with these healthy lifestyles were 82 percent less likely to die from heart disease and 65 percent less likely to die from cancer. More proof that healthy habits leads to a longer, healthier life.
According to the CDC, the average life expectancy for men is 76.1 years. That’s lower than the national average. The average life expectancy for women is slightly better at 81.1.
Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.
Free weekly e-mail on Medical Breakthroughs from Ivanhoe. To sign up: http://www.ivanhoe.com/ftk
ADD A DECADE TO YOUR LIFE
BACKGROUND: Life expectancy in the United States dropped for the second year in a row, according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. The new average life expectancy for Americans is 78.7 years, which puts us behind other developed nations and 1.5 years lower than the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average life expectancy of 80.3. The OECD is a group of developed countries that includes Canada, Germany, Mexico, France, Japan, and the U.K. A new study published in the BMJ journal looked into a broader cause behind the decline: despair. On average, 115 people in the United States die each day from an opioid overdose, and six Americans per day are dying from alcohol abuse which is the highest rate in 35 years, according to federal data. The report also highlights a rise in the suicide rate, which increased 24 percent between 1999 and 2014, as well as health conditions from diabetes to HIV/AIDS that are negatively impacting the lives of Americans.
CAUSES OF SHORT LIFE EXPECTANCY: “Something is amiss in the health of Americans, and the country, on a population level, is sick and dying earlier,” says Steven Woolf, director of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. As to why life expectancy is declining, Woolf says that many people point toward the current opioid epidemic. “That’s certainly a big factor, but it’s also a larger problem that’s been going on for decades. We know there are deeper systemic causes, that paint a picture of hopelessness and despair and struggling with difficult living conditions,” Woolf continued. In 2013, Woolf and his co-author Laudan Aron, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, published a study that found Americans have poorer health in many areas including birth outcomes, injuries, homicides, adolescent pregnancies, HIV/AIDS rates, obesity, diabetes and heart disease when compared to other high-income countries. They also cite lifestyle factors such as high-calorie diets, drug abuse, gun ownership, living in cities designed for cars instead of pedestrians and lack of universal health care as likely contributors.
NEW STUDY THAT MAY INCREASE LIFE EXPECTANCY: A new study conducted by Mikko Myrskylä, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany, and Neil Mehta, Professor of Health Management and Policy at the University of Michigan shows that people who refrain from engaging in risky health behaviors not only have a very long life but most of these additional years of life are spent in good health. The study, which analyzed data for more than 14,000 U.S. individuals, found that never-smokers who were not obese lived 4-5 years longer than the general population, and that these extra years were free of disability. The analysis further indicated that individuals who also consumed alcohol moderately lived seven more disability-free years than the general population, and had a total life expectancy surpassing that of the population of Japan, a country that is often considered to be a vanguard of life expectancy. “Improvements in medical technology are often thought to be the gatekeeper to healthier, longer life. We showed that a healthy lifestyle, which costs nothing, is enough to enable individuals to enjoy a very long and healthy life,” said Myrskylä. He added, “A moderately healthy lifestyle is enough to get the benefits. Avoiding becoming obese, not smoking, and consuming alcohol moderately is not an unrealistic goal.”
* For More Information, Contact:
Janet O’Harrow, Media Relations Coordinator
BayCare Health System