Life Expectancy Down – For Some

Emphasis on the “some”, as The AP reports here.

Women’s life expectancy declined significantly in 180 U.S. counties, mostly in the deep South and Appalachia, between 1983 and 1999, according to a study being released Tuesday.

Few things bring out innumeracy in both the press and the public than mortality statistics, so I heartily recommend that you don’t go around fretting that YOU’RE GOING TO DIE based on this report.

Make no mistake – you’re going to die.  Eventually.  Numerous experts have pegged the odds of this happening to you at 100%.  Until that happens, there are a few things that can have a noticeable effect on your life expectancy, and for the most part you can actively do something about them.

First, choose your parents well.  But you already did that didn’t you?  (And btw, did your children do as good a job?)  If you think that I’m talking here only about how long they lived, you’ve already missed the point.
Second, don’t smoke.  I’m struck, though, by how little this has affected the longevity statistics.  Consider that the people on the thin, leading edge of the growing demographic of non-smokers is just now entering into the stage where they get to their expected longevity.  From now on the survivors only increase the median life expectancy.  It’ll be another generation or two before the effects of smoking on the stats. can be directly measured, which is a direct result of the long latency period of the cancers associated with it.
Third, watch your blood pressure.  Between diets, exercise and medications, there is no reason that it needs to be a factor in your health.  Not even poverty is a reason anymore.
Next, if the mortality rate from these causes is going up, then the cause is usually to be found in the mirror.
Last, some say that high cholesterol leads to heart disease, but be it known that this is in dispute.  Watch for more articles like this to appear.

The lipid hypothesis needs to be re-evaluated. It has serious flaws. First of all, it is important to understand that that “risk factor” does not mean the same thing as “cause”. A risk factor is a characteristic that is associated with a diagnosis. For example, for women, being tall is associated with breast cancer. Does that mean that being tall causes breast cancer? Of course not.

And even laster, why the heck did the AP choose to make this a class and race issue with a statement that is not supported by their own reporting?

“The study emphasizes how important it is to monitor health inequalities between different groups,” the researchers wrote, “in order to ensure that everyone _ and not just the well-off _ can experience gains in life expectancy.”

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