A little over a century ago, life expectancy in the USA was 48 years for women and 46 for men. In 2004, it was 80 and 75, respectively, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Life expectancy rates vary widely internationally, but most nations have shown dramatic increases, some more than the USA. Japanese women, for example, were expected to live 85.6 years and men, 78.6 years in 2004, according to the United Nations Demographic Yearbook. The CDC attributes higher life expectancy rates to better sanitation, improved access to health care, advances in medicine, healthier life styles and better health before age 65.
There’s a lot of controversy about why life expectancy in the USA is lower than Japan and many other nations, when our cost of health care is so much higher. The United Nations rated the USA #38 between 2005- 2010, behind Cuba and the CIA ranked the USA #50 in 2011, right behind Portugal.
Many attribute the problem in the USA to preventable lifestyle-related chronic diseases, like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. In my last article on longevity, I talked about how stress shortens cell life. Stress also contributes to metabolic syndrome, which is defined as 3 or more of 5 risk factors for chronic diseases: high glucose, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL, and large waist to hip ratio.