2

votes

Why do people live longer today?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created October 23, 2012 at 12:40 AM

I was at dinner with my family and friends tonight and we got on the discussion of paleo (per usual since no one agrees with me) and they asked me," If we eat so poorly today, how come so many of us are living in to our 80s?" I had some pretty good arguments to counter, but I want to hear yours-- try to give me an answer other than genetics or the fact that we have medicine, I want to hear if their is something I am missing.

I am tired of hearing the argument of how healthy we are and how cavemen only lived into their teens....sigh!

Medium avatar

(10557)

on October 25, 2012
at 10:14 PM

Back for the second half today.

Medium avatar

(10557)

on October 25, 2012
at 08:52 PM

There is no answer to the argument. It's like predestination. Ready-made for argument.

Medium avatar

(10557)

on October 25, 2012
at 08:50 PM

That's what my grandparents died from 30 years ago at age 75-80. If they had eaten more bacon and less waffles they might have made it to 85. Would their slightly longer lives have been better lives? Not for me to judge.

Medium avatar

(10557)

on October 25, 2012
at 08:44 PM

Travis Culp had a good one a while ago. We're asymptomatic. I didn't know whether he was joking or whether he was jealous of JackLalanne. If you live to age 105 smoking cigarettes, drinking vodka and eating birthday cake, you don't stress out when some scold tells you're sick and don't know it.

4a3611b0503cbc5ee14d8d1d566c7f44

(124)

on October 25, 2012
at 08:15 PM

AND season two of BBC's The Hour starts in November.

Medium avatar

(10557)

on October 23, 2012
at 05:44 PM

Exceptional cognitive performance = awesome. I had a piece of bacon fried with an oyster this morning. It was only pretty good.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on October 23, 2012
at 02:43 PM

And Sherlock after that.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on October 23, 2012
at 02:41 PM

Longer, but not better.

7c9f81d68c78de1a31eab9c91c17b4b8

on October 23, 2012
at 02:35 PM

Yahooooooo!!!!!

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26207)

on October 23, 2012
at 02:10 PM

good point on the quality of life. 50% of healthcare spending in america is for 5% of the population, primarily older people with chronic illnesses that we are keeping alive (although maybe not in the best health) through drugs.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78417)

on October 23, 2012
at 01:46 PM

oh wait.. i see the r=1 of bacon consumption vs exceptional cognitive performance

Medium avatar

(10557)

on October 23, 2012
at 12:30 PM

The statistician in me says run the regression, then look at the size and significance of the coefficients. But we have no population data! Dang. I'd like to see it quantified. Oh....the factor for bacon has been left out...

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41767)

on October 23, 2012
at 11:40 AM

Do you have a double blind 1 million plus subject epidemiological study to back that up? ;)

A65499f2f8c65602881550fe309cd48c

(3501)

on October 23, 2012
at 05:16 AM

My heart gives you squillions of +1's

93eea7754e6e94b6085dbabbb48c0bb7

on October 23, 2012
at 02:24 AM

The other thing they fight me on it cavemen not living long... And I cannot find any hard studies...grrr! But stupid the proof is in the pudding aka me- that I am healthier. Wish they would listen..

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 23, 2012
at 02:14 AM

Plus OP...I don't know if there is empirical data on quality of life, but to me it's vital. If your 72...but on so many meds that you can't remember your own name and need a rascal to tool you around at wal-mart then I'm not too impressed with our increased lifespan. However if your mind and body are sharp then you are likely still enjoying and making the most of your time on Earth.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 23, 2012
at 02:12 AM

But, hey it's just a guess....Good enough for me to give it a run though :).

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 23, 2012
at 02:11 AM

^ From what I gather the expected lifespan for a 15 year old paleo was 72. So throw in all those thing....clean water, improved sanitation, less overcrowded and better living conditions and I think we get over 82 easily.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on October 23, 2012
at 02:07 AM

Its one of the most illogical arguments there is against paleo I have heard. People who make that kind of argument, have a severe deficiency in coherent thought.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on October 23, 2012
at 02:06 AM

Its one of the most illogical arguments there is against paleo I have heard. People who make that kind of argument, have a severe deficiency in vitamin "coherent thought".

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on October 23, 2012
at 02:04 AM

Its one of the most insane arguments there is against paleo I have heard. People who make that kind of argument, have a severe deficiency of coherent thinking.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on October 23, 2012
at 02:03 AM

Do those people think that eating a loaf of bread would protect them from being mauled, eaten, starving, freezing, dehydration, stillbirth, or dying from a disease which has no cure etc? Or that modern medicine, security, reliability of food supply, health standards, science etc does not raise the age of people who eat paleo?

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on October 23, 2012
at 02:00 AM

I think thats a pretty silly argument myself. Drop some modern people in a jungle. Spread their sad food out so that they have to risk life and limb to get at it. Give them nothing but spears and no medicine, and I am damn sure most of them would live a lot shorter than cave men. The simple answer is that their deaths had absolutely nothing to do with what they ate, but how perilous and dangerous their lives were. And our living long has nothing to do with what we eat either, but medicine, safety and security.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on October 23, 2012
at 01:55 AM

Security and a reliable food supply should not be missed.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26207)

on October 23, 2012
at 01:38 AM

not necessarily, even in 1900, the expected lifespan for 15 year olds was 65. Today it is 82. So even corrected for infant mortality, life span have increased significantly since the 60s.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on October 23, 2012
at 12:48 AM

The crux of it is medical (artificial) intervention.

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12 Answers

7
Cc3ce03985eac5ebcbb95fc2329f13b0

on October 23, 2012
at 12:56 AM

Vaccines, anti-biotics, massive emergency plans, sterilisation, better hygeine, refrigeration, Industry standards, worker`s rights, respirators, blood thinners, chemotherapy...etc., etc..

And we might live longer in the western world, but there are still places where infant mortality is extremely high, and life expectancy low. I think people in the Western world are actually beginning to die younger now.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on October 23, 2012
at 01:55 AM

Security and a reliable food supply should not be missed.

6
76026e8ef496039d5075440ff731aa0d

on October 23, 2012
at 05:09 AM

The Walking Dead is back and Game of Thrones is only 5 short months away...gives people something to live for.

Updated 26/10/2012

I can't believe I forgot to include...Dexter

Holy F*ck balls!

(I don't know what a f*ck ball is, but I thank Deb for introducing me to the word)

Truth.

7c9f81d68c78de1a31eab9c91c17b4b8

on October 23, 2012
at 02:35 PM

Yahooooooo!!!!!

A65499f2f8c65602881550fe309cd48c

(3501)

on October 23, 2012
at 05:16 AM

My heart gives you squillions of +1's

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on October 23, 2012
at 02:43 PM

And Sherlock after that.

4a3611b0503cbc5ee14d8d1d566c7f44

(124)

on October 25, 2012
at 08:15 PM

AND season two of BBC's The Hour starts in November.

5
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41767)

on October 23, 2012
at 12:54 AM

Modern medicine.

Medium avatar

(10557)

on October 25, 2012
at 08:44 PM

Travis Culp had a good one a while ago. We're asymptomatic. I didn't know whether he was joking or whether he was jealous of JackLalanne. If you live to age 105 smoking cigarettes, drinking vodka and eating birthday cake, you don't stress out when some scold tells you're sick and don't know it.

4
0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

on October 25, 2012
at 08:42 PM

You broke a leg in paleo times---game over

you break a leg today---your back on the football field within a year

Medium avatar

(10557)

on October 25, 2012
at 10:14 PM

Back for the second half today.

3
782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

on October 25, 2012
at 06:22 PM

The discovery of penicillin and public sanitation.

3
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78417)

on October 23, 2012
at 04:27 AM

Paleo Diet + Activity = beneficial

Paleo Predation + Lack of Sanitation + Lack of Medical Care = not beneficial

the corollary:

Neo Diet + Activity = not beneficial

Neo non-Predation + Sanitation + Medical Care = beneficial

It follows that Neo non-Predation, Sanitation and Medical Care outweighs the non benefits of Neo Diet and Activity.

However, the optimal situation is:

Paleo Diet + Activity + non-Predation + Sanitation + Medical Care

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41767)

on October 23, 2012
at 11:40 AM

Do you have a double blind 1 million plus subject epidemiological study to back that up? ;)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78417)

on October 23, 2012
at 01:46 PM

oh wait.. i see the r=1 of bacon consumption vs exceptional cognitive performance

Medium avatar

(10557)

on October 23, 2012
at 05:44 PM

Exceptional cognitive performance = awesome. I had a piece of bacon fried with an oyster this morning. It was only pretty good.

Medium avatar

(10557)

on October 23, 2012
at 12:30 PM

The statistician in me says run the regression, then look at the size and significance of the coefficients. But we have no population data! Dang. I'd like to see it quantified. Oh....the factor for bacon has been left out...

3
3bc294cb7745a5e99612ff886ca00101

(1186)

on October 23, 2012
at 03:17 AM

I found this interesting: http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2011/05/01/falsehood-if-this-was-the-ston/

Trying to remember something I read about this question in the book "Sex at Dawn" but I can't find it right now.

The gist of it-- we are overcoming a lot of false assumptions and stereotypes of the 'nasty, brutish, and short" lives of our ancestors before agriculture... ignorant, violent, living in caves... you know, back in the day before magical Wheat made it all better.

As long as people are judging based on those unquestioned assumptions, it's tough to have a reasonable conversation about the quantity and quality of life pre-agriculture or even more recently in the hunter-gather societies observed. Apparently, if you have anything positive to say about their lifestyle you are merely 'idealizing the noble savage'.

3
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 23, 2012
at 01:12 AM

From my understanding its a bit of an illusion due to improved infant mortality rates.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26207)

on October 23, 2012
at 01:38 AM

not necessarily, even in 1900, the expected lifespan for 15 year olds was 65. Today it is 82. So even corrected for infant mortality, life span have increased significantly since the 60s.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 23, 2012
at 02:11 AM

^ From what I gather the expected lifespan for a 15 year old paleo was 72. So throw in all those thing....clean water, improved sanitation, less overcrowded and better living conditions and I think we get over 82 easily.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 23, 2012
at 02:14 AM

Plus OP...I don't know if there is empirical data on quality of life, but to me it's vital. If your 72...but on so many meds that you can't remember your own name and need a rascal to tool you around at wal-mart then I'm not too impressed with our increased lifespan. However if your mind and body are sharp then you are likely still enjoying and making the most of your time on Earth.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26207)

on October 23, 2012
at 02:10 PM

good point on the quality of life. 50% of healthcare spending in america is for 5% of the population, primarily older people with chronic illnesses that we are keeping alive (although maybe not in the best health) through drugs.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 23, 2012
at 02:12 AM

But, hey it's just a guess....Good enough for me to give it a run though :).

2
12358894be02c2da1862ea3f4422c195

on October 25, 2012
at 06:14 PM

If only because I am thrown this same curveball by my father, who I consider fairly intelligent otherwise, I feel compelled to comment. There are two arguments to refute this thinking.

  1. The assertion that we live longer is, at its very base, faulty. People equate "Longer average lifespan" with "We live longer". Seeing that this is incorrect is not difficult. Grok, if he lived to 30, was not considered old by his companions. He'd still have to live to 60 to be considered old (not to imply and ageism here). See above posts regarding predation and disease.

  2. Obviously - medicine. We can cure diseases that are a death sentence. That increases overall life expectancy.

The argument that I've been given in follow-up is the traditional diet hypothesis - certain cultures eat foods that are decidedly non-paleo and live long, productive lives. I will, I admit, find myself a little befuddled by this, except to say that people eating traditional diets are often not living what we would define as modern lives. They stay active. More importantly, they still eat basically whole foods diets - even if rice, corn, pasta, and beans make up your diet, it's not as bad for you if you can avoid the barcode and eat real food.

Medium avatar

(10557)

on October 25, 2012
at 08:52 PM

There is no answer to the argument. It's like predestination. Ready-made for argument.

2
53e372e8000681e75254db74d52e1f47

(20)

on October 23, 2012
at 01:22 PM

yes JayJay is correct. Our average life span has increased because much fewer babies die, thereby increasing the average. Make no mistake, overall, we are not as healthy as we were even just 30 years ago. Much more heart disease, diabetes, etc.

Medium avatar

(10557)

on October 25, 2012
at 08:50 PM

That's what my grandparents died from 30 years ago at age 75-80. If they had eaten more bacon and less waffles they might have made it to 85. Would their slightly longer lives have been better lives? Not for me to judge.

1
B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on October 26, 2012
at 09:43 AM

They live longer, because they die later. Hope this clears things up.

1
5bac45c78a2be60bc17fc2084a0f5d43

(259)

on October 25, 2012
at 10:56 PM

Medicine, hygiene, clean water, abundance of food and warm and dry houses. Absence of war and dangerous animals (ever saw bbc movies about ice age fauna?) These are all valid reasons.

I heard somewhere though that current generation will live less than previous one. Look, people who are in their 80s now grew on traditional food. All high fructose, low-fat, fast food and speed bread fermentation were introduced after 50s. Vegetarianism got popularity at 60s due to hippy movement.

So I think people who were born after 50s-60s won't make past 80 year in their majority.

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