Is it our environment, is it our genes, is it our lifestyle or a combination of all these factors that determine how long we live? A recent report about reduced life expectancy of Japanese women has centered attention on the subject of longevity and what factors impact it.
Why Japanese women have lost their crown of longevity
For the first time in 25 years, Japanese women no longer have the highest life expectancy in the world. They have fallen behind Hong Kong women in terms of how long they can expect to stay alive. The life expectancy of Japanese women used to be 86.30 until last year, but as of last year this has fallen 85.90 years.
In this case it is the terrible earthquake and the resultant tsunami that impacted so many seniors that could be responsible for this drop. This increased the overall mortality rate but this is only temporary. Similar dips in life expectancy are caused by other natural disasters, war, pandemics and so on.
But what are the other factors that affect our longevity? What determines how long we can expect to live?
Factors that impact longevity
Recently longevity in the United States has been seen to fall behind some of the other nations with high life expectancy. One of the reasons for this is the fact that we are now seeing the long term impacts of smoking now.
Something else that is blamed for longevity not being as high as it could be is the orientation of the health care systems. Health care is oriented towards treating illness and disease rather than preventing it. Prevention is always better than cure and nowhere is this adage truer than in the impact it has on longevity.
Mental health also impact longevity. When mental health is poorly looked after, rates of suicide are seen to climb, which also negatively impacts life expectance.
Studies have shown that only about 20 to 30% of our lifespan is determined by our genes, the rest is due to our lifestyle and habits. While we cannot change our genes, we can modify our behavior and control our environments.
So if you do want to live a long life, you do have the power to make that happen. Question is, will you?