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
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
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.