Anti aging

Live Longer: Be President, Be Fit and Delay Menopause

OK, this news item or anti-aging tip can be considered somewhat tongue in cheek for the vast majority of us.  However, I found it interesting nonetheless due to how it goes against so called common knowledge.

We all know that presidents really age when they are in office, right?  In fact, some doctors such as Dr. Michael Roizen of and the co-author of You: The Owner’s Manual say that US Presidents age twice as fast while in the Oval Office. When such a well-known “fact” was reported along with the news of Obama’s 50th birthday, a certain sociologist named S. Jay Olshansky at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health as well as a research associate at the University of Chicago’s Center on Aging decided to put this to a test.

He used life tables to determine the expected life span of presidents based upon their ages at inauguration to calculate how long they should live.  He modified this by subtracting 2 days for the time spent in the White House.

Guess what?  Of the 34 checked (discounting those who were died in office), 23 actually lived longer than their modified expected life span.  Using averages, they were expected to live to be 67 but actually lived to be 78.  Individually this would vary.  Heck, John Adams lived to be 91 and that was a long time ago.

So U.S. presidents lived longer than expected in about two-thirds of cases. In addition, Olshansky noted, “all living presidents have either already exceeded the estimated life span of all U.S. men at their age of inauguration or are likely to do so.

Now why does Olshansky think this is so?  For one, they have already lived past those bad young years and survived to reach the age they were at inauguration.  Secondly, they all had at least 3 of the longevity factors: college education, they were wealthy and they got the best health care of the time.

Even if it looks to us like Presidents age faster while in office, the statistics show that 2/3 of them actually live longer than their peers.  So go become a US President so you can live longer.

Longer Depends More on Fitness than Weight

In an 11-year study of over 14,000 men that focused on the role of fitness in death rates, they determined that fitness plays a role in whether or not men die from heart disease versus their BMI.  Using a treadmill test at the beginning and the end to measure heart and lung function was used to determine the level of fitness.

The men who maintained their fitness levels between the two measurements lowered their risk of dying from heart-related or any other causes by up to 30%, compared with those who lost fitness. Those who actually improved their fitness lowered their risk even more, by up to 44%. In fact, for every unit improvement in fitness, measured as metabolic equivalents (METs), there was a 15% decrease in death from any cause, and a 19% decrease in dying from heart-related events.

OK, we know that generally if you gain weight and become sedentary you will be less fit.  So in a way (and I dare say for the majority of people) if you are overweight you are going to have a high BMI and be less fit meaning that they really go hand in hand.  So making a big distinction between fit and fat is more or less baloney with the added caveat of “for most people”.

He notes that the study included white upper-middle class men who were close to normal weight or only slightly overweight. Previous studies have shown that among the obese, weight loss can have a much more dramatic effect in lowering risk of dying from heart events of other causes.

Maybe a study of fit fat people (is there really such a thing?) compared to fit lean people would be of more use in determining whether being fit is as important or even more important than how much you weigh.  Furthermore, try adding some women to your study.

Delayed Menopause Means Living Longer

Just a quick note on this one as all I have access to is an abstract of a study from the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  This also goes along with one theory of aging – the reproductive cell cycle of aging.

Each year of delayed menopause resulted in a 2.9% reduction in mortality; after including a number of additional controls, the effect was attenuated modestly but remained statistically significant (2.6% reduction in mortality). We also found that no other reproductive parameters assessed added to the prediction of longevity, suggesting that reproductive factors shown to affect longevity elsewhere may be mediated by age of menopause.

So the longer it takes a woman to reach menopause, the better her chances for living longer making delayed menopause a great anti-aging remedy.

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