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HNL’s Hourly Health Handbill for Hobbyless Health Handout Hoarders: Your Source for Health News Volume 1, Issue 1

November 24, 2009


Life Expectancy in the United States.

Inside this issue:



Genes and Longevity


The Effects of the Environment on Life Expectancy


Death Rates Region to Region


Calories and Mice and Longevity? (Oh My!)


Leading Causes of Death


Did You Know? Statistics that can clarify your understanding


Life expectancy is the age that a person is expected to live to. It is evaluated by the federal government for every age group in increments of 25 years. There is life expectancy data for babies, 25 year olds, 50 year olds, etc. Life expectancy is a statement for a group of people, and longevity is individual.

white women is 81.5 years and the life expectancy for white men is 76 years. Black women also lead black men in life expectancy, by a whopping 7.1

for the distance between their life expectancies still do not exist.

Women have consistently led men in life expectancy since the numbers of death in childbirth decreased when technology improved 80 years ago. One theory for this difference is that women are simply stronger than men, right down to their double X chromoLife expectancy is not consomes, and another is that sistent from country to women are sick more often country, or even within and so see doctors more. countries. The United Older men also have much States is ranked 31st in higher suicide rates the world for life exthan older women. (S) Is there truth to the statement “anything pectancy. However, boys can do girls can do better”? Based Whatever the cause, not all Americans are on life expectancy, yes. life expectancy is a expected to live as fascinating and everlong as others. One years, with black women changing statistic. Read group, white women, are, being expected to live 77.1 this issue to find out more statistically, expected to years and black men being about life expectancy and live the longest. Today, expected to live 70 years. related topics. the life expectancy for Satisfactory explanations

Aging Aging, health-wise, means increased susceptibility to a host of diseases and afflictions. Over time, free radicals wear on cells, making them weaker, less able to cope with infection, and more likely to become cancerous. Aging differs from person to person, and there is no specific formula for it. People over the age of 65—the age that seems to be where society draws the line for becoming

“old” - can be in better shape than people younger than them; being old should be based more on health than on numbers. One major factor affecting health and aging are genes: there has yet to be found a specific command for shut-down in body function that leads to aging, but even people with limited freeradicals age and die. Some examples of signs of

aging are graying hair, muscle weakness and increased chance of osteoporosis, cancer, stroke, and heart attack. Aging is also marked by degeneration in eye sight, fatigue, and incontinence. (N) These conditions unfortunately lead to an increased dependence on others.

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HNL’s Hourly Health Handbill for Hobbyless Health

Genes and Longevity Genes are a major influence in longevity. They account for about 40% of life expectancy, and a lot goes into that. No single gene is responsible for life span. Multiple genes and variations of those genes have been identified, with the knowledge that there are many more unidentified longevity genes. In a study done by UCSF scientists, scientists used RNA Interference to analyze genes (daf genes) and discover their functions and effects on the cells. They discovered complex systems of genes, in which certain genes have

functions that affect other genes’ behavior. The analysis revealed that the genes that have the biggest effect on longevity code for antioxidant proteins, code for the reparation of damaged proteins, or increase resistance to bacterial infection. ( 9) In reference to the preceding article on aging, free radicals wear on cells. Antioxidants work to counteract the damaging effects of oxygen free radicals. Other genes that influence life expectancy have to do with cell functions. This means that longevity is based on a host of different components working productively—or

not—with each other. In a study of SIRT1 genes, SIRT1 genes allow cells to outlive conditions where they would normally kill themselves, allowing them to be repaired. This type of cell loss is guessed to be a factor in aging, especially in tissues where specialized cells cannot be regenerated. (15) Being able to outlive stressful conditions results in increased resistance to another round of stress factors, ultimately resulting in strong and longlasting cells, and a strong and long-lasting organism.

How the Environment Effects Life Expectancy

Life expectancy is caused by genetic and environmental factors.

Environmental factors have more to do with life expectancy than genes. According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, if genes only explain about 40% of life expectancy, then environmental factors make up the other 60%. (16) Environmental factors include, on life expectancy, poverty, crime rate, air and water quality, and access to medical care. These tangible factors are easy to understand, but bet you didn’t know that:

Looking to Move?

volunteer. (17) This is not just because the elderly who volunteer feel more able to, but because volunteering boosts happiness and gives a sense of purpose. It’s all about stress and vitality. Stress is wearing on the body, and those with happier lives, stronger social connections, and a purpose are less likely to feel depressed, isolated, and more likely to have stronger buffers against stress and mak1e it through life struggles.

Look to Minnesota

For all of the people who moved to Missouri for its fresh air and Levvittown-reminiscent suburbs, it may come as a surprise that, as of 2005, Missouri has the 13th highest death rate in the country, according to the CDC. (14)

Minnesota has the lowest death rate in the United States.

Cultural and social environmental conditions also make a difference on health and life expectancy. Studies show that happiness accounts for life expectancy. (5) The gap between men and women in life expectancy decreases when happiness level increases, which points to the theory that men with happier lives have a stronger will to live and can live longer. Studies also show that older people who volunteer outlive other elderly people who don’t

With 884.8 deaths per 100,000 people it is not far behind North Carolina, which had 888.6 deaths per 100,000 people per year. Mississippi has the highest death rate (1022.4 per 100,000), but it has only 137.6 more deaths per year than Missouri. (14) If those statistics inspire you to

relocate, then Minnesota might be the place for you. With 697.6 per 100,000 deaths every year Minnesota leads the continental United States with the lowest death rate. (14) This begs the question why. One thing that Minnesota has that Missouri doesn’t is a health care clinic called Mayo Clinic. In Missouri, doctors are paid based on what they do, and are more likely to assign unnecessary tests to make more money. With Mayo Clinic, doctors are paid a fixed rate, so are not as motivated by

money. In fact, even without the clinics like Mayo, Minnesota was deemed the “healthiest state in the country” because of its general health of the people. (11) This includes rates of smoking, high school graduates, limited car accidents, and low poverty rates. Even so, Minnesotan leaders believe that because of rising obesity rates and sustained levels of smokers, Minnesota has a long way to go if it wants to really be healthy.

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Volume 1, Issue 1

Calories and Mice and Longevity? (Oh My!) The question on the mind of many before deciding on food choices is how healthy is this?, but now it might be about life expectancy. Studies since the 1930s have shown that mice placed on a lowcalorie but high-nutrition diet live much longer than other mice—30 -50%! The question is why, and, since we know human cells to be similar to mouse cells, will it work as effectively for us?

the control group. (1) Put it this way: the less energy and more nutrition you have, the longer and healthier life you will live.

This is backed up by a study done by the research teams of David Sinclair and Lenny Guarente. They started by studying the SIR genes in yeast cells (silent information regulator). They found that by adding an extra copy of the SIR2 gene to yeast A scientist named Dr. Civitarese cells their life expectancy douconducted an experiment with overweight people split into three bled, and when applied to worms increased up to 50%. SIR2 has groups (one was a control group). enzymes that only activate in the The results were promising: the presence of NAD, a metabolic people in both calorie restricted molecule. groups had healthier mitochondria and less DNA damage than This leads to two theories of why

a calorie restricted diet works: 1) the less energy mitochondria have to process the fewer harmful byproducts they create and 2) calorie limitation is a stressor so organism’s give themselves boosts of energy to overcome it. (15) Whichever theory is correct, there is a definite link between food and life expectancy. In case you’ve been confused during this article, inside every human cell are organelles called mitochondria. As humans age, they decrease in number and produce increased amounts of free radicals. Free radicals seem to contribute to many diseases and disorders characteristic of old age that often lead to death, such as cancer.

Life expectancy and life span are not the same thing.

A life

span is the longest any one species could possibly live (for humans this is around 120 years, (S)) and

Leading Causes of Death

life expectancy is

It is no surprise that heart disease, cancer, and stroke are the leading causes of death in America—claiming 1,328,643 lives each year. (7) But it may be surprising that topping off the list in places 9 and 10 are nephritis and septicemia, with 79,578 deaths every year between them. (7)

Nephritis is the inflammation of the kidneys, which can be acute or chronic. Both types can be caused by allergic reactions to drugs, but chronic nephritis can also be caused by radiation, high blood pressure, obstruction of the urinary tract, sickle cell disease, and polycystic disease of the kidIf you aren’t the type of perney. Some 60% of adults and son who spends time learning 90% of children have nephritis all you can about diseases, that goes away on its own then you probably are curious without any serious health as to what they are:

repercussions, but in some cases it progresses into kidney failure, leading to a need for a new kidney, death, or permanent need for dialysis. (8)

how long one is expected to live based on external and genetic factors.

Septicemia is blood poisoning due to the presence of bacteria in the blood. It is also known as SIRS. Septicemia can be caused by infections and progresses quickly into a serious problem. The death rate is scarily high—50%. (10)

? Did You Know ? The average life expectancy for men in the United States is consistently lower than the life expectancy of women: white women live an average of 5.5 years longer than white men, and black women live an average of 7.1 years longer than black men. 4 important factors of longevity are genetics (family history of fatal diseases), access to healthcare, environmental factors (air quality, poverty, etc.), and lifestyle choices (substance abuse, etc.) Women and men evolved to have different stress responses, although both of them are present in both men and women. They are called “fight or flight” and “tend and befriend”. (13)

Nephritis is a type of kidney failure that claims 45,344 lives in the U.S. every year. (7)


Bibliography 1.) Barry, Patrick. “Living on Less? Mouse and Human Cells Respond to Slim Diets.” Science News. Vol. 171: 147. Access Science. McCullough Library. 4 November 2009. <http://www.accessscience.comcontent.aspxsearchStr=longevity+of+humans&id=YB040815> 2.) Cohen, Gene. “Aging.” Access Science @ McGraw Hill. Access Science. McCullough Library. 4 November 2009. <http://> 3.) Cartophiliac. “Minnesota.” 1 September, 2008. Online Image. Cartophilia: Maps and Map Memorabilia. 19 November 2009. < blog/2008_09_01_archive.html> 4.) “Definition of Nephritis.” Medicine Net. 20 October 2001. 16 November 2009. <http://> 5.) “Happiness and Sex Difference in Life Expectancy.” Ideas with RePEc data. 17 November 2009. 20 November 2009.<> 6.) Kristof, Nicholas. “Unhealthy America.” New York Times. 4 November 2009: A35 (<http://>) 7.) “Leading Causes of Death.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Faststats. 15 May 2009. 15 No vember 2009. <> 8.) “Nephritis: Dr. Trisha Macnair.” BBC: Health. March 2009. 16 November 2009. < health/conditions/nephritis1.shtml> 9.) “Scientists Find What Type of Genes Affect Longevity.” UCSF News Office. 29 June 2003. 19 November 2009. < ype-of-genes-affect-longevity/> 10.) “Septicemia.” Medline Plus. 29 October 2009. 16 November 2009. < ency/article/001355.htm> 11.) Szabo, Lisa. “Minnesota Sets Bar on Health Again.” USA Today. 5 December 2006. 12.) The Hindu News Update Service. “Suicide Gene.” Online Image. The Stem Cell Blog. 18 November 2009. <> 13.) Taylor, Shelley. “Sex Differences in Stress Response.” Access Science @ McGraw Hill. Access Science. McCullough Library. 4 November 2009. <> 14.) United States. Department of Health and Human Services. “Health, United States, 2008.” Table. Washington: CDC, 2008< hus08.pdf#026> 15.) “Unlocking the Secrets of Longevity Genes.” Science American. February 2006. 20 November 2009. <> 16.) “Venezuelan kindreds reveal that genetic and environmental factors modulate Huntington's disease age of onset.” PNAS. 1 March 2004. 20 November 2009. <http://> 17.) “Volunteer, It’s Good for You.” Mayo Clinic. 15 January 2009. 18 November 2009. <>

Resources National (N): Elder Care: Mid East Area Agency on Aging. 636-207-1323. 14535 Manchester Road Manchester, MO 63011-3960 Local (L): St. Charles Health Department, Division of Public Health. 636-949-7400. 1650 Boone’s Lick, St. Charles MO, 63301. School (S): McCullough Library. The Fountain of Age. Betty Frieden. Website (W): St. Louis Department of Health.

Hayley Landman  

life expectancy

Hayley Landman  

life expectancy