Saturday, July 31, 2010

15 Signs You’ll Live Forever

15 Signs You’ll Live Forever by James Quinn

1. The employed outlive the laid-off Could the recession actually kill you? Losing your job makes you 15 to 20 percent more likely to die within the next 20 years, according to a 2009 study. Aside from the obvious reasons—loss of health insurance, increased poverty (see No. 10)—nutritionist Jonny Bowden, author of The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer, says that “job loss is one of the greatest stresses” a person can endure. One of what Bowden dubs “the four horsemen of aging”—along with inflammation, excess sugar, and free radicals—stress spurs production of the hormone cortisol, which harms the immune system, shrinks the hippocampus, and thickens the waist. (Source: Daniel Sullivan and von Wachter, Till (2009): Job Displacement and Mortality: An Analysis Using Administrative Data. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 124 (3), 1265-1306.)

2. Married people outlive singles On average, married people have a 15 percent higher life expectancy and live 1.17 more years than their unwed counterparts. Happily married pairs enjoy “companionship and support, which lowers stress levels,” says longevity expert Sally Beare, author of 50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People. “Regular sex with a long-term partner also helps slow the aging process in women as it helps them produce growth hormone.” And husbands live longer “partly because their wives encourage them to take care of their health.” (Source: Paul Frijters et al. (2005): Socioeconomic status, health shocks, life satisfaction and mortality: evidence from an increasing mixed proportional hazard model. The Australian National University Centre for Economic Policy Research Discussion Paper no. 496)

3. Women with husbands their own age outlive cougars Women who are married to guys seven to nine years younger than themselves face a 20 percent higher mortality risk than women with same-age partners. “Since marrying a younger husband deviates from what is regarded as normal, these couples could be regarded as outsiders and receive less social support,” theorizes the author of the study that yielded this statistic. “This could result in a less joyful and more stressful life, reduced health, and finally, increased mortality.” All things being unequal, men with seven-to-nine-years-younger wives have an 11 percent lower mortality rate than men with same-age wives. (Source: Sven Drefahl (2010): How does the age gap between partners affect their survival? Demography, 47 (2), 313-326.)

4. People who sleep less outlive people who sleep a lot Those who typically sleep more than 8.5 hours a night face a 15 percent higher mortality risk than those who typically sleep seven hours nightly. (The risk factor soars again for those who sleep fewer than 4.5 hours nightly.) Although sleep duration is highly individualized and “different people have different sweet spots,” Bowden muses, “some people who sleep nine hours a day are very toxic. What’s happening with their bodies that they need that kind of sleep? Some might be sleeping off bad hangovers.” (Source: Daniel F. Kripke et al. (2002): Mortality associated with sleep duration and insomnia. Archives of General Psychiatry, 59, 131-136.)

5. Slim-waisted people outlive big-waisted people This is not the same as thin people outliving fat people—your body can be the right weight, but still pose a risk if it stores it in the wrong place. Large waist circumference (defined as 40-plus inches in men and 35-plus inches in women) is associated with a 25 percent higher mortality risk than normal waist circumference (defined as 36 inches in men and 30 inches in women), regardless of body-mass index. “The apple-versus-pear body shape shows where you store your fat,” Bowden says. “The apple shape is far more dangerous.” Unlike hip/thigh/bottom fat, belly fat is associated with diabetes, heart disease, and other life-shorteners. (Source: Annemarie Koster et al. (2008): Waist circumference and mortality. American Journal of Epidemiology, 167 (12), 1465-1475.)

6. Optimists outlive pessimists Optimists have a 55 percent lower death risk in general and a 23 percent lower death risk from heart failure than pessimists. The researchers who reached this conclusion define “optimist” as someone who “thinks in a positive way, sees the future as meaningful and fulfilling, has a desire to achieve new goals, and has a sense of happiness and joy.” Beare points out, “It is well known that laughing boosts immunity and helps heal illness, and we can presume that optimists laugh more.” (Source: Erik J. Giltay et al. (2004): Dispositional optimism and all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in a prospective cohort of elderly Dutch men and women. Archives of General Psychiatry, 61, 1126-1135.)

7. People who move outlive people who sit But it’s not as simple as all that. If you sit still for eight or more hours daily, you’re 18 percent more at risk of dying prematurely than those who sit still for less than three hours a day. The surprise in this stat is that exercising vigorously beforehand or afterward doesn’t make up for all that sitting time, so you can’t just cancel out the ill effects of your desk job by attending a spin class afterward. “Every continuous hour that you sit adds to your mortality risk,” warns Bowden, who recommends standing and stretching now and then because “metabolic processes involved in creating a healthy cardiovascular system don’t happen when you just sit.” (Source: Katrien Wijndaele et al. (2010): Television viewing time independently predicts all-cause and cardiovascular mortality: the EPIC Norfolk Study. International Journal of Epidemiology, doi:10.1093.)

8. Churchgoers outlive non-churchgoers “Those who attend religious services at least once a week have a 25 percent higher life expectancy than those who don’t. That’s probably because church attendance increases social support, a proven life-extender, rather than because God rewards the faithful, asserts Victor Zeines, author of Living a Longer Life. “Mississippi has a very high churchgoing rate but also a very high obesity and mortality rate,” Zeines points out. “I don’t like the implication that you should go to church to stay healthy.” (Source: Ray M. Merrill (2004): Life expectancy among LDS and non-LDS in Utah. Demographic Research 10(3), 61-82.)

9. Mormons outlive non-Mormons Mormon men and women live 6.7 percent and 3.2 percent longer than those not affiliated with the Church of Latter Day Saints, respectively. “LDS Church doctrine promotes longer life among its members by discouraging use of tobacco, alcohol, coffee, and tea, and recommending a nutritious diet,” explains Brigham Young University epidemiologist Ray Merrill, whose research yielded the findings. Keep in mind that BYU is a Mormon school when considering this stat. (Source: Ray M. Merrill (2004): Life expectancy among LDS and non-LDS in Utah. Demographic Research 10(3), 61-82.).

10. The rich outlive the poor Money may not buy you happiness, but maybe it can buy you some time. People who live in high-income areas have a 10 percent lower mortality rate than people in low-income areas, and an increase in household income is associated with a 15 percent reduction in mortality risk. “The fact that richer areas might have better health or public amenities (e.g. such as road safety, less serious crime) … is certainly an important topic for future research,” write the scholars whose work produced this result. (Source: Paul Frijters et al. (2005): Socioeconomic status, health shocks, life satisfaction and mortality: evidence from an increasing mixed proportional hazard model. The Australian National University Centre for Economic Policy Research Discussion Paper no. 496)

11. Light drinkers outlive abstainers By now, the world has heartily embraced the truism that red wine is a health beverage: Wine drinkers live 4.7 years longer than nondrinkers and 2.5 years longer than those who drink other forms of alcohol. This is possibly due to resveratrol, an antimicrobial phytoalexin found in dark grape skins which, in experiments, extends the lives of monkeys and fruit flies. But it may surprise you to learn that men who consume 20 grams—about two drinks’ worth—of any kind of alcohol daily have a 25 percent lower mortality risk than male nondrinkers. In moderation, “drinking relieves stress,” Zeines says. “It’s not always toxic, any more than oxygen is always toxic.” (Source: Martinette Streppel et al. (2009): Long-term wine consumption is related to cardiovascular mortality and life expectancy independently of moderate alcohol intake: the Zutphen Study, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 63, 534-540.)

12. TV avoiders outlive TV devotees Every additional hour per day spent watching television is associated with an 8 percent higher death risk from cardiovascular disease and a 5 percent higher death risk in general. Is it the couch-potato factor—or the Home Shopping Network? “5.4 percent of deaths from all causes could be reduced if those watching TV for 3.6 hours a day would watch 2.5 hours a day instead,” write the researchers whose study yielded these results. “Public health recommendations should consider advising a reduction in TV time, a predominant leisure activity in modern society.” (Source: Katrien Wijndaele et al. (2010): Television viewing time independently predicts all-cause and cardiovascular mortality: the EPIC Norfolk Study. International Journal of Epidemiology, doi:10.1093.)

13. Hawaii residents outlive everyone else in the United States If time feels like it passes more slowly in the islands, maybe that’s because it really does. Residents of Hawaii, the nation’s longest-lived state, make it to 81.3 years old on average, while residents of Mississippi and Louisiana, the two shortest-lived states, tend to live only 74.2 years. It’s worth it to live longer when drinks come in coconut shells. (Source: Frank R. Lichtenberg (2007): Why has longevity increased more in some states than others? The role of medical innovation and other factors. Manhattan Institute for Policy Research Medical Progress Report, 4.)

14. Women outlive men According to the Centers for Disease Control, the death rate for males in the U.S. is 40.6 percent higher than the death rate for females; on average, women outlive men by 5.1 years— and the gap is widening. “In terms of biology, men are in many ways superfluous,” Zeines says. “As a male, my job is to kill every other male I see and spread my seed. Once we do the fertilization thing, there isn’t any reason for men to be around.” Biologically, at least. (Source: Melonie Heron et al. (2009): Deaths: Final Data for 2006. National Vital Statistics Reports, 57 (14).)

15. Literate people outlive illiterate people The mortality rate for those with inadequate reading skills is more than 50 percent higher than the mortality rate for those who can read well, for a host of reasons. Imagine being unable to read prescriptions, labels, charts, or instructions. Or the latest information on health and sickness. (This column, for instance.) Another factor, Beare speculates, is that the least literate among us might work the most dangerous jobs. (Source: David W. Baker et al. (2007): Health literacy and mortality among elderly persons. Archives of Internal Medicine, 167 (14), 1503-1509.)


Note number two is "happily married couples" not just married which for some is hell on earth.

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