Lifestyle and longevity

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Wisdom, discipline, and lifestyle play a great role in people’s longevity. The COVID-19 pandemic is a good example. While seniors, especially those with health issues, are more prone to get infected, a great majority of them have been so careful and vigilant, they have eluded the virus, compared to careless, arrogant younger ones who were not so disciplined, got infected, many of them dying anyway, in spite of what their genetic code for lifespan was.

According to the University of Minnesota, deaths among young people, ages 25 to 44 in New York, was around 38%, as of December 17, 2020. That’s almost half of the death rate for seniors. Indeed, a healthy lifestyle impacts longevity.

COVID-19 cases worldwide is almost 110 million, with about 2.5 million deaths; USA – nearly 28.5 million cases and almost half a million deaths; and The Philippines – about 553,000 and around 12,000 deaths.

Almost 180 million doses of the anti-COVID-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide. In the USA, about 55 million, or about 11.6 percent of the US population, have received the vaccines. Around 12.6 million doses a day are being administered.

Only about a century ago, the average lifespan of American men was 46, and today it is 78.93, an added bonus of 32.93 years, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Biologists have estimated that the human body has the potential to last 120 years, if not abused, and properly cared for. The “fountain of youth” appears to be a healthy lifestyle. How we live will forecast 75% of how far we can get.

There are a few “strategies” proven by scientific researches which can maximize longevity. The studies also “calculated” how many “added years” each regimen will confer upon the person who uses any of them. While the benefits are not cumulative, the more strategies one uses, the greater the chance of enjoying a longer life.

For instance, cutting down on the use of cell phone while driving adds 45 seconds to your life for each call you do not make. According to Dr. Donald A. Redelmeier of the University of Toronto, everyday, 99 years of life are lost because of driving accidents while one driver is on the phone.

Having sex often, if possible, and live longer. Studies revealed that there is an inversely proportional “dose-response” relationship between orgasms and heart problems. The more sex, the lesser the risk of suffering a heart malady.  One study of 918 men, showed that those who had sex the most often had 50% less risk of death from heart ailment.

Cutting down on calorie intake (amount of food you eat) by one third of what you now eat, can lower cholesterol and increase your life by 2 to 3 years. Leaving the dining table less than full is a healthy practice.

A UCLA School of Public Health study shows that men who took 300 mg vitamin C or more a day, lived 5.5 year longer than those whose intake was less than 50 mg. Getting enough vitamin C from vegetables and fruits is best way of doing it.

Helping your spouse take care of your children has been found to increase longevity.

Lowering the cholesterol from 239 to 200 adds 6 months to one lifespan, and dropping a high level of 300 down to 200 gives an additional 4 years to life. This can be achieved by diet, exercise, and if needed, by cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Go to church twice a week and extend your life to 7-14 years longer, as reported in Demography. Besides, learning abstinence from tobacco and alcohol, religion in this case also provides strong social and psychological ties and other good practices conducive to a healthier lifestyle.

A research has shown that an active social life can add nearly 10 years to life. Those with practically no friends, minimal social contacts, live 4.5 years shorter.

Among 10,000 men studied, those who have the highest level of aerobic fitness lived 8.7 years longer than those least-fit individuals.

Having regular medical check-up increases longevity by 2 to 3 years, by preventing diseases and detecting diseases in their early, curable, stages.

Eating less red meat extends life up to 9 years. A diet of fish, soy, legumes and beans, and other vegetables, increases life expectancy by 13%. Limiting red meat to 3 ounces twice a week, if not eliminating it totally, in exchange for chicken meat, will do the trick.

Get a dog and walking him every day will add 5 years to your life. The studies at the Cooper Institute reported that men who walked briskly for 30 minutes a day, five times a week, prolong their lifespan by five years.

Those who abstained from tobacco live five years longer, compared to smokers. Alcoholic die at least 8 years sooner than disciplined imbibers or non-drinkers.

A normal or medically-controlled blood pressure increases your longevity by five to 5.3 years. The standard normal blood pressure level, which used to be 120/80, has been lowered to about 115/70. You can cut your risk of dying by 13% in the next two decades by ignoring fast food fries/hamburger chains, as borne out by a study on 3,000 men. Also, controlling body weight to normal confers between 8 to 20 added months to longevity.

Believe it or not, a study on 7,841 men showed that those who ate 3 candy bars (dark chocolates, especially) per month, regularly, lived one year longer than those who did not. But those who ate 3 or more sweets a week had 30% increased risk of premature death.

While curiosity kills the proverbial cat, inquisitiveness among seniors has been found to increase their lifespan by five years. “Higher curiosity levels may mean better adaptation to changes, stress or challenges,” said Dr. David Larson of the National Institute of Healthcare Research.

People who have stomach aches and who availed themselves of prompt medical care to cure their ulcer add 2.3 years to their life, some saving their life from early cancer with gastro-endoscopy

A study conducted by a Scottish neuropsychologist on 1000 eccentrics found that those “unencumbered by the usual stupid worries that so-called normal people obsess over, live 5 to 10 years longer.” Professional men live 2.6 years longer than average, and unskilled workers live about 4.6 shorter life than average.

Cheers! Studies from Harvard found that disciplined “men who had two to six drinks per week had a 21 to 28 percent lower risk of death from all causes than did abstainers.”  I’ll drink to that.

Mr. Bartender, a glass of Oregon Pinto Noir, please.

The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, a Health Public Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian and anti-graft foundation in the United States. Visit our websites: philipSchua.com and FUN8888.com    Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com

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