Babies born 3 miles apart in New York have a 9-year life expectancy gap

A baby born today in Murray Hill, a neighborhood in midtown Manhattan, has a life expectancy of 85 years. A baby born six subway stops north, in East Harlem, has a life expectancy of 76. The 9-year gap shows up on this map, from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, meant to highlight the massive health-care gaps that exist within cities.

RWJF, a health-care-focused nonprofit, mapped a few other cities on life expectancy, and the results are similar.

QUICK GUIDE: This is a map that shows life expectancy around the globe

Japan was the country with the longest life expectancy at 83.1 years. In Africa, most countries fall below 65-year averages, with Sierra Leone the lowest at 45 years.

See the full res graphic in our original site post.

No one’s life should be rooted in fear. We are born for wonder, for joy, for hope, for love, to marvel at the mystery of existence, to be ravished by the beauty of the world, to seek truth and meaning, to acquire wisdom, and by our treatment of others to brighten the corner where we are.
—  Dean Koontz, Life Expectancy

Why American Women Aren’t Living As Long As They Should

One of the great victories of the 20th century is that humanity became much smarter about health. We figured out refrigeration, immunization, and that smoking isn’t actually good for you, and we began living longer.

In 2006, the average life expectancy at birth was 75 years for American men and 80 years for women, compared with just 48 years for men and 51 years for women in 1900.

But new research shows that while life span has been on a positive overall trajectory for mankind, it’s been on a not-so-positive trajectory for the U.S. in particular: Americans’ life expectancies might be increasing, but those of other nations are increasing much faster, particularly among women. From 1980 to 2007, for example, the life spans of 50-year-old women in the U.S. had increased by about 2.5 years. But in Japan and Italy, it had increased by 6.4 years and 5.2 years, respectively.

And now, researchers are scrambling to understand why it is that American women are dying sooner than than those in other first-world countries.

Read more. [Image: Barbara Kinney]
'Rasputin Was My Neighbor' And Other True Tales Of Time Travel : Krulwich Wonders... : NPR

How could somebody talking to me in a diner on 7th Avenue have also talked to somebody that ancient? It just didn’t seem possible. Yet the old guy said, “Rasputin and my dad were friends. He used to come over for tea.”

I thought about it. Rasputin was assassinated in 1916. A 70-year-old man in 1973 would have been 13 when Rasputin was alive. It was not inconceivable that this guy had actually met Rasputin.

Human Wormholes

There are people who live long enough to create a link — a one-generation link — to figures from what feels like a distant past, and their presence among us shrinks history. When “Long Ago” suddenly becomes “So I said to him …,” long ago jumps closer.

External image

There are many examples of people who shrink history this way. The blogger Jason Kottke has been collecting examples. He calls them “human wormholes,” because these people help us leap across space/time. 

(Image caption: Areas of the brain affected by aging (in red) are fewer and less widespread in people who meditate, bottom row, than in people who don’t meditate. Credit: Dr. Eileen Luders)

Forever young: Meditation might slow the age-related loss of gray matter in the brain

Since 1970, life expectancy around the world has risen dramatically, with people living more than 10 years longer. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that starting when people are in their mid-to-late-20s, the brain begins to wither — its volume and weight begin to decrease. As this occurs, the brain can begin to lose some of its functional abilities.

So although people might be living longer, the years they gain often come with increased risks for mental illness and neurodegenerative disease. Fortunately, a new study shows meditation could be one way to minimize those risks.

Building on their earlier work that suggested people who meditate have less age-related atrophy in the brain’s white matter, a new study by UCLA researchers found that meditation appeared to help preserve the brain’s gray matter, the tissue that contains neurons.

The scientists looked specifically at the association between age and gray matter. They compared 50 people who had mediated for years and 50 who didn’t. People in both groups showed a loss of gray matter as they aged. But the researchers found among those who meditated, the volume of gray matter did not decline as much as it did among those who didn’t.

The article appears in the current online edition of the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Dr. Florian Kurth, a co-author of the study and postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Brain Mapping Center, said the researchers were surprised by the magnitude of the difference.

“We expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating,” he said. “Instead, what we actually observed was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain.”

As baby boomers have aged and the elderly population has grown, the incidence of cognitive decline and dementia has increased substantially as the brain ages.

“In that light, it seems essential that longer life expectancies do not come at the cost of a reduced quality of life,” said Dr. Eileen Luders, first author and assistant professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “While much research has focused on identifying factors that increase the risk of mental illness and neurodegenerative decline, relatively less attention has been turned to approaches aimed at enhancing cerebral health.”

Each group in the study was made up of 28 men and 22 women ranging in age from 24 to 77. Those who meditated had been doing so for four to 46 years, with an average of 20 years.

The participants’ brains were scanned using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging. Although the researchers found a negative correlation between gray matter and age in both groups of people — suggesting a loss of brain tissue with increasing age — they also found that large parts of the gray matter in the brains of those who meditated seemed to be better preserved, Kurth said.

The researchers cautioned that they cannot draw a direct, causal connection between meditation and preserving gray matter in the brain. Too many other factors may come into play, including lifestyle choices, personality traits, and genetic brain differences.

“Still, our results are promising,” Luders said. “Hopefully they will stimulate other studies exploring the potential of meditation to better preserve our aging brains and minds. Accumulating scientific evidence that meditation has brain-altering capabilities might ultimately allow for an effective translation from research to practice, not only in the framework of healthy aging but also pathological aging.”
Indigenous Albertans living shorter lives than everyone else
Indigenous life expectancy about 12 years less than total provincial population

The latest annual report from Alberta Health reveals the growing gap between the life expectancy of First Nations and other Albertans.

Indigenous people are dying 12 years earlier than the total provincial population, averaging out at 70.36 years in 2015.

That’s the lowest it’s been in five years.

“It’s certainly a concerning finding to see this continued gap, even expanding gap in life expectancy between First Nations Albertans and other Albertans in the province,” said Cheryl Currie, associate professor at the University of Lethbridge and research chair in Aboriginal Health for Alberta Innovates Health Solutions.

Premature death is the major factor that influences these statistics, said Currie.

“We’ve all heard the news reports about suicide among indigenous youth in Canada, the fentanyl crisis [and] opioid overdose death. This has hit young people very hard.”

According to the report, the province’s First Nations population has a higher rate of suicide, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, heart disease and high blood pressure than everyone else in Alberta.

Continue Reading.

Perhaps there is a drug that can prolong your life. It’s called money

A wise man once said that “mo’ money, mo’ problems” (Wallace, 1997). However, despite increases in supposed problems, one of the major benefits is increased life expectancy.

New research published in JAMA last week examined how big a difference earning more money makes in life expectancy, as well as how this changes by geographic location across the United States. Researchers collected tax records from 1.4 billion individuals from 1999 to 2014 aged 40 to 76. Of these, around 4 million men died, compared to 2.7 million women (mortality rates of 596.3 and 375.1 per 100 000 respectively). They examined these data to look at what predicted life expectancy at age 40, after adjusting for race and ethnicity.

There are some pretty striking findings. Those in the top 1% were found to live an average of 14.6 years longer for men, and 10.1 years longer for women, compared to those in the bottom 1%. Put into context, while a man in the top 1% can expect to live to the ripe old age of 87.3, and a woman in the top 1% can expect to live until they are 88.9 years of age, their compatriots in the bottom 1% can only expect to live to 72.7 years of age for men, and 78.8 years of age for women – considerably less. As pointed out in this piece on IFLS, this is “similar to the reported male life expectancy in Sudan and Pakistan” (which is a pretty stigmatizing statement, but I’ll leave that for another time). They also found this has got worse over time. Between 2001 and 2014, those in the top 5% have had their life expectancy increase by around 2.5 years (2.34 for men and 2.91 for women), while the life expectancy for those in the bottom 5% have increased by 0.32 years for men and 0.04 years for women.


If in the early 1900′s he average life expectancy was 30-40 years, and that was considered normal, and now it is 70-80 years, which is considered normal, then in another 100 years the average life expectancy could be 150 and that would be considered normal. Everybody would be like, “Ah, yes, the 2000′s back then most people only lived to 80, they died so young.” That kinda freaks me out.