Men & Longevity: A Wake–Up Call
June is National Men's Health Month, which shines a much needed spotlight on men's wellness. Why should men's health receive special attention? One big reason is lifespan. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Center for Health Statistics, the life expectancy at birth for men born in 1950 is 65.6 years as opposed to women's 71.1 years, and for those born in 1960, 66.6 years as opposed to women's 73.1 years.
And the trend continues. Men born in 2005 will live 75.2 years as opposed to women's 80.4 years. Simply put, women continue to outlive men–5 to 10 years on average. The question is why. As it happens, there are multiple factors.1 Here are a few:
• Men tend to get heart disease sooner
• Men are more likely to smoke
• Men eat more meat/high cholesterol foods
• Men often internalize stress
• Men are more likely to commit suicide
But there is good news. Overall, about 70% of the variation around average life expectancy appears to be due to environmental factors such as lifestyle behaviors and exposures. If only about 30% is due to genetics, that puts tremendous control in our hands. As you can see, the factors listed above that may hasten a man's demise are nearly all preventable.
But those efforts must start now. What action steps are you willing to put into play today? How about deleting tobacco once and for all? Launching your day with a healthy protein shake? Taking your multi-vitamin/mineral formula? Hitting the gym? It's these kinds of simple, daily actions that achieve measurable results over time.
As we learned from the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University–one of the oldest, largest and most prestigious studies in the world involving those aged 100 and over, healthy longevity is about boosting wellness now and maintaining it as long as you can. The idea is to compress the time you're sick to the very end of your life. It's not the older you get, the sicker you get, but rather the older you get, the healthier you've been.2
2 Lancet. 1999 Aug 21;354(9179):652