Thursday, May 16, 2019

Five lifestyles which will prolong your life. . . maybe

Have you ever seen this statement--"Americans have a shorter life expectancy compared with residents of almost all other high-income countries." I wish they'd qualify that by race, ethnicity, immigration status and age. Are Swedish Americans less healthy than ethnic Swedes in Sweden? Finnish Americans worse off than those born in Helsinki? German Americans? Drugs, auto accidents, and gun deaths wipe out a big swath of young Americans which unfortunately drastically alters our life expectancy national statistics. Losing weight, eating a healthy diet, and exercising more are good for you as an individual, but probably won't change national statistics as long as those 3 killers are present.

Here's what the journal "Circulation" determined: "Adherence to 5 low-risk lifestyle-related factors (never smoking, a healthy weight, regular physical activity, a healthy diet, and moderate alcohol consumption) could prolong life expectancy at age 50 years by 14.0 and 12.2 years for female and male US adults compared with individuals who adopted zero low-risk lifestyle factors."

Simple, right? Popular health journals and websites (usually sponsored by pharmaceutical companies) have jumped on that one. Buckets of articles and bags of advice have come from that. But. As young adults, people (like me in the 1960s or my parents in the 1930s) observing those five lifestyles were probably not involved in violent gangs, car chases while drunk, stealing to support an opioid habit, or eating wings at the local bar and washing them down with 12 beers several times a week. Those five lifestyles often include a monogamous marriage, higher education levels, stable jobs, church attendance, strong family and friend relationships. It's not that grandma who smoked like a chimney and drank six beers a day didn't live to be 105, or that cousin Ralph dropped dead jogging at age 40, but they are the exception.

I haven't read the whole article, but I know how it will be cited: support take over by the government of our health insurance because look how unhealthy Americans are. Studies in countries with socialized medicine that compare their healthiest and their least healthy show the same spread as the U.S. and that there are income gaps, education disparity and socio-economic differences which government health insurance doesn't change.

This article is free access.  “Circulation” is one of the best peer reviewed journals you can read on cardiovascular issues.

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