The Science of Living Longer

Posted on December 2, 2014

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By: Julia Schiciano

“A Handy Guide to Longer Living Through Science,” an article written by Gretchen Reynolds for the New York Times, explains the factors that affect human lifespans and how to live longer through scientifically tested means. Before I discuss the results, take this precursor into account; these variables were tested on animals such as mice, fruit flies, nematodes, and yeast, and scientists expect the results to apply to humans. However, we do not know if the outcomes will match for humans exactly. During the years that scientists have been testing different variables that may or may not extend human life span, many controversial findings have developed. It is important to point out that through this research, scientists have found that lifestyle choices and habits that positively affect one group could negatively affect another, or not affect another group whatsoever. With that in mind, let’s get right to the results (because, hey, life is short).

Through tested research conducted on animals, scientists concluded from this study that there are some habits and lifestyles that negatively affect the longevity of human lives. One of the results of this study that stuck out to me was the idea single men on average die younger than those in relationships with a partner. So, boys, you know what that means – it’s time to find that one that makes your toes all bubbly! (Your life depends on it…literally). However, scientists also found that males decrease the life span of women. Yikes. This could cause some awkward situations and potential fights.

Ladies, let me give you a little push in one direction or the other, depending on your priorities. It has been said that dieting does not extend life. Well, at least scientists thought so until 2014, when they found that it may actually extend lifespans. However, this depends upon how you diet and change your lifestyle. Studies show that the affects on one’s body from dieting are really up in the air, fifty-fifty. Only if one turns a “diet” into a “lifestyle choice” will dieting become positive. However, when dieting includes restricting the body of the nutrients, fats, and protein that it needs, extremely negative affects can occur. Therefore, dieting can be positive or negative, depending upon how you do it, either extending or shortening life overall. Additionally, scientists have found that being slightly overweight does not decrease the lifespan of humans, yet being underweight can decrease human lifespans. Therefore, eat the donut; it won’t kill you, and it might actually help you live longer.

There was one particular part of the study that made my insides swell. Proudly taking ownership over my self-identification as a coffee addict, I could not contain my excitement when I saw that coffee extends life! That means I’m extending my life three, sometimes four times a day, depending upon how late I stayed up the night before.

I felt pretty good about everything I had learned until I get to the bottom of the study and read “mouse genes don’t predict long lives in humans.” Well, that’s a little bit of a disappointment. However, there is no point in losing all hope; there are still the nematodes, fruit flies, and yeast that yield positive outcomes in the lives of humans! So, take all of this with a grain of salt (but not more than a grain, that might impact the longevity of your life) and kiss a boy, eat some donuts, and drink lots and lots of coffee.

The study also investigates other habits, such as the affects of smog, when one is born, the occupations of individuals, and sleep and how each of these things affect human longevity. To learn more about this study, feel free to look at the findings and the ways that scientists are studying animals to predict the lifespans of humans in the coming years. The key to an immortal life has not been found yet, but studies like these can give some insight about what is good for us, how it affects us, and what we can do to life longer and healthier lives.

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Posted in: Health