Life Expectancy In America - Only 79 Years

The sobering truth, according to the World Health Organization, is that if you live in the United States your life expectancy is just under 79 years. This number many be particularly depressing for the millions of working class Americans who will have to work till the age of 70 to claim full Social Security benefits after going to the old 8 to 5 for decades only to have a precious few years to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

I recently read an article widely distributed by a major news outlet bragging about the United States having a life expectancy of between 78 and 79 years. What this glowing article failed to mention was that according to 2014 statistics published by infoplease.com this ranks the U.S. in an embarrassing 42nd place.

Statistics collected by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) tell us that women in the US can expect to live to be 81 years of age with men only making it to 76. Both numbers are unimpressive when compared on a global basis of developed countries.

Japanese women currently live the longest living to be 87 years of age followed by Spain 85.1, Switzerland 85.1, Singapore 85.1 and Italy and 85.0.

For men the list looks a lot different with Iceland topping the list at 81.7 years, followed by Switzerland 80.7, Australia 80.5, Israel 80.2, Singapore 80.2.

Note: The only countries making it into the top ten for both men and women in global longevity ranking were Japan at 83.5 years, Switzerland 82.9, Australia 82.5, Italy 82.6, Singapore 82.6, and Luxembourg 81.9.

One interesting fact released in the upbeat life expectancy article in question was that Americans have an 80 percent chance of living till the age of 75 but only a 50 percent chance of making to the age 78!

Why Does This Occur?

The truth is there has been a great deal of speculation as to why populations in certain countries tend to live longer but no one really knows for sure. Additionally, it is certainly counterintuitive to conventional wisdom that the United States should rank so low as it is the largest consumer of prescription medications; has some of the best hospitals, technology, and doctors in the world; and most Americans have easy access to ready/emergency care facilities in case something unexpected does go wrong.

According to seniorhealth.com the leading causes of death for seniors over the age of 65 and older in the United States are heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), pneumonia, and diabetes.

So what is it that allows other countries to have fewer incidences of the killer diseases above and go on to live another 5 to 10 years.

Note: Generally the top 5 life ending diseases are similar (if not the same) in most developed countries with influenza occasionally making the top 5 list primarily in Asian countries.

COPD Notes: As the disease progresses the patient has to work harder and harder to breath, they often feel as if they are suffocating. COPD and other diseases of this type are often linked to a lifetime of smoking, but can be due to environmental factors as well.

What Are Some of The Possible Reasons for Longer Life Expectancy?

Certainly there are no easy answer but a good place to start would be to compare the habits and lifestyle differences between the United States and Japan.

1) This first and most obvious possibility the United States falls short in life expectancy is that we as a nation are over drugged, or perhaps relying on drugs to solve our health problems, rather than blending lifestyle modification with drug therapy. In other words thinking more reactively than proactively.

The American Association of Retired Persons conservatively estimates that the average American takes 6 prescription drugs a day and most seniors know that a doctor visit often result in one or more prescriptions being written on the spot.

The American Association of Retired Persons predicts this number of prescriptions written for seniors will rise dramatically in the years to come.

The numbers for Japan seniors are about 75 percent less than the average American senior age 60 with most estimates having the average Japanese senior taking from 1-2 pharmaceuticals per day.

*The above statements in no way implies you should stop your doctor approved medications, only look for doctor approved natural alternatives when possible.

2) Diet: The high levels of land and sea vegetables has been seen as one reason for Japanese having well above average longevity.

Most experts believe that a high consumption of taurine (in fish), omega 3 fatty acids (in fish), and of fucoidans (in seaweed) help Japanese people live longer. It has also been suggested that the powerful antioxidants in green tea may also play a role.

Note: How many American friends do you have a meal consisting of fish, seaweed, and green tea as the beverage? I would suspect for most the answer would be none!

3) Lifestyle: The National Geographic points out a number of differences it believes exist between Japanese and Western Lifestyles: The Japanese tend to eat less than their Western counterparts; to walk or cycle more frequently; to undertake yoga and tai chi; and even (due to the small size of many homes) interact socially more often.

*While there is little concrete evidence to support the three-pronged hypothesis above there is also no evidence to disprove it either. That said, what we do know is that the Japanese tend to live long lives compared to other general populations around the world.

In conclusion, while the number of years a person will live has improved slightly in the United States it is my belief we can do better. What seems to be becoming increasingly clear is that to improve longevity and quality of life one may only need to work closely with their doctor to make small changes in diet and lifestyle in combination with smart use of prescription medications. Certainly there are no guarantees but by making these changes a person will be giving themselves a better chance to extends to valuable senior years.

Robert D. Hawkins is an enthusiastic researcher and consumer advocate for natural health and natural living with over 12 years experience in the field.
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