January, 2002    Vol. 1   No.1

Page 3

Vegetarians Live Longer

In a study titled Ten Years of Life.  Is It a Matter of Choice? By Gray Fraser in the July 9, 2001 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine found that Seventh Day Adventists, who overall have healthier habits, have a longer life expectancy at the age of 30 years than does the average American.1  Men lived 7.28 years and women 4.42 years longer.  This gives Adventists a higher life expectancy than any other formally described population.  Diet, body weight, exercise, cigarette smoking and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) all play a part in these benefits. 

The study looked at 34,192 non-Hispanic white Adventists of at least 30 years of age.   The dietary breakdown of the group showed 27.5% of men and 30.9% of women were vegetarians (meat less than 1 time a month); 19.3% of men and 22.9% of women were semivegetarians (meat less than once per week) and 53.2% of men and 46.2% of women were non-vegetarians.  A history of past cigarette smoking was found in 32.4% of men and 13.1% of women.  About half the women used HRT. 

The vegetarian men and women had some of the best results with an expected age of death at 83.3 and 85.7 years, respectively.  That is 9.5 and 6.1 years longer than the average Californian lives.  

COMMENT:  Lifestyle choices will make a difference.  Unfortunately, we seldom realize this until we have lived to a respectable age.  I have often heard, “If I would have known that I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”  In addition to living longer there is documentation that these Adventists live healthier – they have fewer chronic diseases, fewer hospital stays, and take less medication.  There is nothing genetically special about these people, and they are exposed to similar levels of pollution and risks of infection as other Americans.  Therefore, the simple answer is to practice what most of us already know as true – a healthy diet and lifestyle. 

 I am not an Adventist, but I have worked at Adventist hospitals all of my medical career.  I now run the McDougall Program at St. Helena hospital, an Adventist Hospital, in Deer Park, California.  My experience has led me to believe that these people are, overall, healthier and happier than the general population.  Many have fallen away from the dietary practices taught by their founder, Ellen G. White, and it shows.  However, most know what the truth is about vegetarian diets and they are generally very receptive to the McDougall message on healthy eating. 

1. Fraser G.  Ten years of life.  Is it a matter of chance?  Arch Intern Med 161:1645-52, 2001.





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