Live long and prosper!
How to improve life expectancy with a few healthy habits
Caribbean Life, January 17-23, 2020 33
“Who Wants to Live Forever”
is a song that appeared on
the 1986 album “A Kind of
Magic” by the rock band Queen. The
song often sparks conversation about
the potential benefi ts of immortality .
Immortality may not be possible,
but many people aspire to improve
their chances to live a long and prosperous
life. A study published in the
journal Lancet analyzed data from the
2016 Global Burden of Diseases project
to generate life expectancy predictions
from 2017 to 2040 for most countries.
The United States saw the largest decline
in ranking among high-income
countries, as life expectancies in the
United States are projected to fall from
43rd in 2016 to 64th by 2040, with an average
life expectancy of 79.8. Life expectancy
in the U.S. has dropped in
each of the past two years, according
to annual reports by the National Center
for Health Statistics.
But there may be hope for Americans
yet. Doctors and scientists continually
study the lifestyles of people
who outlive their life expectancies.
While genetics can play a role, so can
following healthy habits, which have
been identifi ed to promote longevity.
• Don’t smoke. Many smokers have
been told that smoking trims 10 years
off their life expectancies, and that
statement is corroborated by a study
published in 2013 in The New England
Journal of Medicine that tracked participants
over a span of several years.
The good news is people who quit before
the age of 35 can usually regain
those lost years.
• Avoid drug use. Accidental drug
overdoses contributed to 63,600 deaths
in the United States in 2016, according
to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Usage of prescription opioids and
heroin has skyrocketed in recent years.
Drug use also may exacerbate mental
illnesses, potentially making drug users
more vulnerable to suicide.
• Maintain healthy body mass.
Moderate to vigorous exercise regimens
and diets loaded with healthy
foods can keep weight in check. Maintaining
a healthy weight has a host of
positive side effects, including reduced
risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease is a leading
killer in North America. According
to the National Center for Health
Statistics, nearly four in 10 adults and
18.5 percent of children in the United
States are obese. According to the 2015
Canadian Health Measures Survey, 30
percent of adults in Canada are obese
and may require medical support to
manage their disease.
• Limit alcohol consumption. Some
evidence suggests that light drinking
can be good for cardiovascular health.
However, a paper published in the Lancet
suggests every glass of wine or pint
of beer over the daily recommended
limit will cut half an hour from the
expected lifespan of a 40-year-old. The
paper says the risks are comparable to
Simple, healthy lifestyle changes
can help people increase their life expectancies.