Finally, a Regimen to Extend Human Life Expectancy

Rejuvenation Res. 2018 Jun;21(3):278-282. doi: 10.1089/rej.2018.2088.


The United States has the most expensive healthcare system worldwide. Yet measures of health span and life expectancy are well below the major industrialized nations. With the U.S. population aged 65 years and older projected to double by mid-century, a healthcare crisis is looming. Within this context, huge interest and investment have emerged in technologies and drugs to address aging with an expected benefit to health span. The thesis being that such basic interventions will reduce morbidity caused by many chronic diseases wherein biological age itself is the major risk factor. In the light of limited progress to date, a recent study out of the Harvard School of Public Health is quite refreshing: less than half dozen lifestyle interventions can greatly increase health span. Perhaps these are familiar: cessation of smoking, ≥30 minutes of moderate daily exercise, high-quality diet (limited processed food), modest alcohol intake, and maintenance of an optimal body mass index of 18.5-24.9 kg/m2. From age 50 years, women engaging in all of these behaviors versus those who do zero can expect to have a life expectancy of 43.1 additional years (an extra 14 years) with men gaining 37.6 years (an extra 12.2 years). A regimen to extend life expectancy is at hand. However, there is room for optimization by including the effects of sleep, intermittent fasting, and/or caloric restriction. Moreover, the extension of life expectancy by adherence to a healthy lifestyle revises the health span threshold for antiaging treatments under development and should provide a better set of controls for clinical trials investigating novel treatments of aging.

Keywords: diet; exercise; life span; longevity.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Body Mass Index
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Chronic Disease*
  • Diet*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Exercise
  • Fasting
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy*
  • Life Style
  • Longevity*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking
  • Time Factors
  • United States