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Life expectancy is the estimate of the average number of additional years that a person of a given age can expect to live. The most common measure of life expectancy is life expectancy at birth. Life expectancy is a hypothetical measure. It assumes that the age-specific death rates for the year in question will apply throughout the lifetime of individuals born in that year. The estimate, in effect, projects the age-specific mortality (death) rates for a given period over the entire lifetime of the population born (or alive) during that time.
Life expectancy is commonly given for specific categories, rather than for the population. It can be affected by that person’s family and health history, genetics, environment, lifestyle factors such as diet, and even age and sex.
Life expectancy reflects local conditions. In less-developed countries, life expectancy at birth is relatively low, compared with more-developed countries. In some less-developed countries, life expectancy at birth may be lower than life expectancy at age 1, because of high infant mortality rates (commonly due to infectious disease or lack of access to a clean water supply).
Recent research from the Long-Life Family Study (LLFS) confirms that severe mortality-associated diseases are less prevalent in the families of long-lived individuals than in the general population. (Are Members of Long-Lived Families Healthier than Their Equally Long-Lived Peers-Evidence from the Long-Life Family Study). An international collaborative study of the genetics and familial components of exceptional survival, longevity, and healthy aging.
Researchers found that seven conditions were significantly less common for siblings in a long-lived family, than for similarly aged controls:
• Hip fracture
• Prostate cancer
• Heart failure
• Chronic kidney disease.
There are things we can do to improve our chances of living a longer and healthier life.
• By quitting smoke, binge-drinking, eating a healthy diet and taking regular exercise can add 10 years to one’s life.
• By maintaining and developing strong social networks with family or friends. Some studies suggest this has a protective effect on health.
• Taking advantage of any educational opportunities available in the adult life, even if one doesn’t do well at school. This seems to have health benefits.
• Volunteer - There are likely to be opportunities to volunteer wherever we live and some studies suggest this can help maintain mental health and improve life expectancy.