Friday, December 16, 2016

10 Things that Affect How Long You Will Live

Although it may impossible to say how long a human being will live, it is possible to estimate how long certain people are likely to live based on a number of predictable factors. The trick is not in predicting how old someone will be when they die these days-actually, we already have a very good idea of that based on rates (generally referred to as “life expectancy rates,” to be more precise) carefully recorded and monitored by governments-but, rather, how many years the person is likely to lose out on or be prematurely deprived of based on specific “risk factors” or assessable circumstances, ten which are delineated in this article:

1. Quality of medical and dental care. The fact is that poor folks generally live shorter lives than rich people. While one may draw many different conclusions as to why this is so, one glaring reality is that, in general, people with better resources have access to better medical and dental care; they not only get better care but are more likely to get it quicker and under better-equipped circumstances. Public clinics and general hospitals often cater to many of the needs of the poor but they usually do not have the top-notch specialists and latest-technology equipment and medicines generally available (because of their better resources) to private hospitals. As for dental care, you should know that proper dental care is not just a matter of having pretty teeth–actually, dental problems, such as infections, can quickly affect other parts of the body, including the heart, the lungs and one’s blood supply. Finally, to this list you can also add proper hygiene-lack of which can also lead to all kinds of medical complications.


2. Risk-taking tendencies, predisposition or history. High-risk takers, on average, suffer more accidents (some of them fatal) and compromise their health more often and with more intensity than people who prefer to not put their health or life on the line, for whatever reason. One of the habits of this type of person is engaging in dangerous sports and pastimes. These people may have more fun and perhaps think that they live a fuller life but they are also more likely to die prematurely than more cautious individuals.


3. Use, abuse or misuse of dangerous “drugs,” including alcohol, smoking products (which contain dozens of dangerous carcinogens), and prescription medications. Without question, this factor plays one of the most significant roles in reducing human longevity. Alcohol, for example, kills millions of people each year (directly through cirrhosis and other medical problems and indirectly through car accidents) and so do cigarettes and other smoking products. Then there are the thousands of people (Janis Joplin, John Belushi, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson-just to name a few of the famous ones) who die from abuse of over-the-counter and prescribed medications. All these people have their life expectancy compromised through the bio-molecular damage they undergo as a result of these potentially toxic (in the wrong quantities and when used incorrectly) substances.


4. Proper exercise and diet or the lack thereof. There is no question that people can compromise how long they will live through the choices they make (or fail to make) concerning exercise and the quality of food they eat. Our bodies need certain vitamins and minerals for proper development and to function at peak capacity. If we do not get these nutrients in the proper amounts at the proper times, our cells do not replicate properly and our organs may undergo slow but significant damage. As we age, these things happen anyway, but, because of poor diets and lack of exercise, the process may be speeded up in a negative direction.


5. The type of work that you do. Clearly, some types of work are not only more dangerous but they can have a significant impact in how healthy you can stay. Police officers, for example, are more likely to die on the job than, say, office workers. There is also a mental/psychological factor involved. Certain jobs may prompt more people to commit suicide (just one of many ways that work type can affect human longevity) or to end their lives and the lives of others through psychotic episodes. The stress that these jobs inflict on people can seriously compromise their health in a number of ways, which is why, for certain types of jobs (teachers, air traffic controllers, military personnel, prison correctional officers, etc.), some medical problems (like heart attacks and nervous breakdowns) are more common.


6. Ability and willingness to manage stress. Without question, stress is one of several “silent killers” in our society. Often, people cannot see the damage that stress is having on their mental and physical health. Actually, while the mental harm is expected, many people are surprised to find that many physical problems (most notably, cardiovascular disease and diabetes) are directly attributable to stress. Stress, as a matter of fact, can over a period of time, diminish one’s longevity, unless people learn to manage it effectively.


7. Having a good sense of humour. Some may question whether there is a scientific validity to this, but people who lack the ability to laugh at some things in life are probably ill-equipped to deal with and handle many of life’s most complicated and challenging obstacles. At the very least, having an ability to laugh is an excellent way to manage stress, but there may be more to this than just a stress-reduction capacity. When we are happy, to the point of being able to laugh about something, we are producing endorphins, which have been attributed with positive effects upon the human body, including our psyches.


8. Being on the move. Sedentary people do not seem to fare as well as people who are always on the move. This is not just a matter of engaging in frequent and demanding exercise, but of making the body use up energy (thus reducing the chances of unnecessarily gaining weight), putting the organs to work (which is crucially important, especially in regards to the heart, which is, after all, a muscle), and forcing the circulatory system to earn its keep. People on the move do not sit long enough to get depressed, do not let their muscles atrophy, and, in general, do not give negative things enough time to catch up with them. Is it any wonder that the most active senior citizens in nursing homes often live the longest?


9. Genetic predisposition to disease. Unfortunately, this is probably the one factor on this list over which we have the least amount of control. This is not to say that it is all bad news on this front, though. As we know more and more about the genetic code, we are getting better at identifying defective genes, thus improving the chances of one day being able to predict and take preventive measures against certain diseases. In the mean time, though, this is one factor that can rather accurately predict likely human longevity for certain people.


10. How you generally feel at your present age. Whatever difficulties or challenges you are feeling at your present age can be a good indicator of how you will feel, say, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, or more years from now-only, you need to multiply the severity and frequency of these problems with each passing year. A person, for example, who is having memory problems (especially about basic things, like where he or she left the keys, what they ate for dinner the night before, or how long ago they saw a doctor, etc.) at 35 will likely see the problem get much worse at 60-in fact, such a person may be showing the early signs of Alzheimer’s, a mental capacity-debilitating disease that often goes undiagnosed for a long time and which, contrary to popular opinion, can be lethal.


Resources


1. Sinha, J.K., & Ghosh, S. (2010). “Correspondence.” www.icmr.nic.in/ijmr/2010/april/0417.pdf


2. Press Release: “Four Preventable Risk Factor Reducing life Expectancy in US & Lead to Health Disparities.” (2010). Harvard School of Public Health. http://tinyurl.com/27w94qw


3. “Fix Our Genes-the Search for Human Truth.” (2009). http://www.fixourgenes.com/


4. “Endorphins”-definition for. (2007). http://menopause.about.com/od/menopauseglossary/g/Endorphins_Def.htm


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