Life Expectancy In India

Over the last 50 years, India's average life expectancy at birth has risen significantly, thanks to improvements in healthcare. It has surged from 49.7 years between 1970 and 1975 to 69.7 years between 2015 and 2019, marking an impressive gain of 20 years. These statistics are drawn from the 'Sample Registration System (SRS) based Abridged Life Table 2015-19,' a publication by the Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner.

A 'life table' is like a report that tracks a group of imaginary people as they age and die, showing the chances of survival and death at different ages. This helps us understand how long a population might live on average. In India, they use the Sample Registration System (SRS) to estimate life expectancy by studying birth and death rates in cities and villages. They use five-year averages for death rates in rural and urban areas, for both men and women, to make their estimates more accurate.

Envision a world where we possess the keys to unlock the secrets of a longer and more fulfilling life. The boundaries of our aspirations are now within reach, thanks to an exceptional observational study.

Recently, researchers have revealed eight evidence-based lifestyle habits that, when adopted during midlife, hold the power to dramatically lengthen an individual's life.

The Study!

At the heart of this revolutionary study lies the Veterans Affairs Million Veteran Program (MVP), an awe-inspiring health research initiative involving over a million esteemed U.S. veterans. The MVP's noble mission is to unravel the intricate web of genes, lifestyles, military experiences, and environmental exposures, shedding light on how they impact our health and overall wellness. By analyzing the data gathered within this program, researchers have paved the way for transformative discoveries that can potentially impact our lives significantly.

So, what are these eight remarkable habits that hold the key to our longevity? Let's take a closer look:

Maintaining Positive Social Relationships:

We are social beings, woven into the fabric of community and connection. Nurturing positive social relationships weaves an intricate tapestry of support, enriching our lives and cultivating a sense of purpose that propels us forward.

Maintaining Good Sleep Hygiene:

In the embrace of restful slumber, our bodies find solace and rejuvenation.

Being Physically Active:

The foundation of a healthier and longer life may lie in the simple act of staying physically active.

Not Smoking:

The dark clouds of tobacco smoke have long been known to cast a shadow on our health. However, this study reaffirms the profound impact of quitting smoking on extending our time on this planet.

Managing Stress:

The modern world may be rife with stress, but learning effective stress management techniques could be our secret weapon for defying the odds and embracing a life of resilience and longevity.

Maintaining a Good Diet: 

"You are what you eat," they say, and indeed, the foods we consume shape the narrative of our lives.

Not Regularly Drinking Alcohol Excessively: Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption can safeguard us from the perils that might otherwise tarnish our chances of a longer life.

Not Developing an Opioid Addiction: 

Within the shadows of opioid addiction lies a perilous path that threatens our well-being. By steering clear of this treacherous road, we can safeguard our future and pave the way for healthier tomorrows.

Through analysis of data from 719,147 veterans between the ages of 40 and 99, gathered between 2011 and 2019, researchers drew striking conclusions. Veterans who embraced all eight habits experienced an astounding 13% reduction in the risk of death from any cause compared to those who adopted none of these practices. The study revealed that men following all eight habits at the age of 40 may live approximately 24 years longer, while women could gain around 23 years in their projected lifespan.

Some habits emerged as formidable gatekeepers to longevity—low physical activity, opioid use, and smoking posed the greatest risk, elevating the chances of death by 30% to 45%. Meanwhile, stress, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, and sleep hygiene issues each presented their unique challenges, contributing to a 20-30% increase in the risk of death. Surprisingly, even the lack of positive social relationships cast a shadow, amplifying the risk by 5%.

Intriguingly, the study also shed light on the significance of mental health in shaping our life expectancy. Living with anxiety or depression accounted for a haunting 8% of premature deaths, prompting researchers to delve deeper into the interplay of psychosocial factors.

Heart disease and diabetes are major causes of death and disability in the United States. Unhealthy lifestyle habits contribute significantly to these conditions, accounting for 90% of diabetes cases, 80% of coronary heart disease, and 70% of cardiovascular mortality.

Enter lifestyle medicine—a beacon of hope in the quest for prevention. Focused on empowering us through lifestyle modifications, this specialty offers a potential avenue to curb the rising tide of healthcare costs tied to prescription medications and surgeries. In this quest for enlightenment, the MVP shines as a guiding light, affording researchers the unique opportunity to explore the intricate web of lifestyle factors that resonate with a specific population devoted to service.

The study's resounding message echoes through the ages—it's never too late to embrace a healthier lifestyle. Even if we cannot fully adopt all eight habits, every positive change in our lives holds the promise of tangible benefits. The journey towards better health may start with one, two, or three habits—a step-by-step march towards a brighter future.

India's Remarkable Improvement in Life Expectancy

India is experiencing a positive shift in its health landscape as highlighted by a report from ICMR and The India State-level Disease Burden Initiative. Over the past 26 years, there has been a remarkable improvement in life expectancy, with numbers rising from 58.3 to 66.9 years for males and from 59.7 to 70.3 years for females. Notably, the prevalence of communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases (CMNNDs) as a cause of death has significantly decreased from 53.6% to 27.5%, while non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have increased from 37.9% to 61.8%, with injuries slightly rising from 8.5% to 10.7%. This shift reflects longer lives and a substantial decrease in deaths due to traditional diseases. Cardiovascular diseases are the primary NCD cause, but air pollution and malnutrition also pose challenges. While challenges remain, the overall outlook is one of improved health and extended lifespans for the Indian population.

So, how do we add a couple of years to our fast-paced and stressful lives here in India? The age-old wisdom of eating right and exercising regularly remains a steadfast beacon, guiding us toward a healthier existence. Now, armed with concrete evidence from studies like this one, we can quantify the impact of healthy habits, reaffirming the value of positive change.

As with any scientific endeavor, it's essential to tread carefully and acknowledge the study's observational nature. Causality cannot be assumed from the findings, and while researchers diligently controlled for confounding factors, further research is needed to unveil the subtle interplay of cause and effect.

This remarkable study provides evidence supporting the profound connection between healthy lifestyle habits and increased life expectancy. Embracing these changes during midlife could unlock the secrets to a longer and healthier journey, enabling us to seize the reins of our destiny.