Tag Archives: life expectancy

Is Our Modern Food Supply Killing Us?

paleobetic diet

John Deere combine harvesting wheat

Well, it’s complicated.

Many in the blogosphere wring their hands and pace to-and-fro worrying about GMO food, food preservatives, HFCS, sugar, gluten, artificial chemical additives in our food, arsenic in our water, mercury in our fish, factory-farmed food animals, industrial seed oils, hormones in our milk, antibiotics in our meat, pasteurization of milk, etc.

Consider this: worldwide life expectancy at birth has increased from 52 in 1960 to 70 in 2010. So just how bad can the food supply be?

I wonder how many items in the list above will turn out like dietary cholesterol, saturated fat, and total fat. That is, not a big deal.

You can argue that life expectancy would be even longer if we had better food. I’m sure that’s true to a degree. You can argue that there have been myriad helpful cultural and technological changes, irrespective of the food supply. Very true.

I’m just trying to put things in a perspective. An 18-year improvement in life expectancy over a half century is a big deal. Regardless of how you feel about wheat, Norman Borlaug deserves some credit.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Life Expectancy for Type 1 Diabetics Much Improved

…but we’ve got a long way to go.

When I started my medical career three decades ago, it was rare to see a type 1 diabetic exceed 60 years of age. Thank God that has been changing for the better! A recent Scottish study found life expectancy in type 1 diabetics, compared to the general population, was 11 years shorter for men and 14 years shorter for women. In 1975, the gap was 27 years. One of the investigators was quoted by the article at MedPageToday:

“There is absolutely no doubt that glucose control is important for long-term outcomes in people with type 1 diabetes.”

From the Framingham Heart Study: Compared to those without diabetes, women and men with diabetes at age 50 died 7 or 8 years earlier, on average. This study population was a mix of type 2 and type 2 diabetes, with type 2 predominating, I’m sure.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Diabetic Life Expectancy

Exercise helps postpone death

Exercise helps postpone death

Type 1 diabetics diagnosed in childhood and born between 1965 and 1980 have an average life expectancy of 68.8 years.  That compares to a lifespan average of 53.4 years for those born earlier, between 1950 and 1964.  The figures are based on Pittsburgh, PA, residents and published in a recent issue of Diabetes.

Elizabeth Hughes, one of the very first users of insulin injections, lived to be 73.  She started on insulin around 1922.

Average overall life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.2 years—roughly 76 for men and 81 for women.

Don’t be too discouraged if you have diabetes: you have roughly a 50:50 chance of beating the averages, and medical advances will continue to lengthen lifespan.

Steve Parker, M.D.