What Science Tells Us About How to Live Longer

By on August 26, 2021
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Aging is a biological process. Although it has many religious, cultural, and social implications, long life is a “sciency” phenomenon at the end of the day. Human life expectancy has increased dramatically over the past few decades thanks to remarkable advances in health sciences and increased awareness about all the things that help you live longer.

In this article, we’ll discuss some factors that have been shown to affect human longevity and the advice science has for people who want to live a longer, healthier life. But before we get into that, you should know that while the idea of a long life is attractive, fragility and weakness are inevitable (and ugly) parts of old age. Science has yet to come up with a way old people can regain the strength of their youth.

Until then, a good aged care facility can be a godsend for old people who need support and care to live safely. 

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The Factors that Affect Human Longevity

Before we discuss what we can do to live a long life, it’s important to be aware of the factors that affect our life spans without any intervention. As you’ll see, some of these are modifiable while there’s nothing you can do about others.


This one is straightforward. The unhealthier your lifestyle is, the more your chances of developing diseases and dying early. Unhealthy lifestyle activities associated with a shorter lifespan include:

  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Drinking too much alcohol — alcohol is a risk factor for a wide range of cancers as well as liver disease, both of which can cut your life short
  • Smoking — just like alcohol, smoking is a major risk factor for many cancers, the most famous one being lung cancer
  • Unsafe workplace environment
  • Irresponsible vehicle riding
  • Risky behavior

But the most important unhealthy lifestyle factor today is obesity, which has been linked to a wide range of diseases including type II diabetes (which has a plethora of complications of its own), liver disease, some types of cancer, and many long-term, inflammatory conditions. If you want to live longer, cutting down on fat is a very good idea.


Science has bad news for males when it comes to longer lives. Studies show that women tend to live longer than men. For example, the average life expectancy for females in the US is around 81 years, which drops to 74.6 years when it comes to males.

There are many explanations for this difference. One that you’ll agree with is that males tend to be more involved in risky behaviors and activities. 

Education level 

How educated you are will affect how long you live. Higher educational levels are associated with longer lives. One explanation for this is the fact that people who are highly educated are wealthier than those with lower education levels. Greater wealth allows for a healthier lifestyle and access to better healthcare advice and treatments.

This phenomenon has been observed in both males and females. But you should know that socioeconomic status is also an independent factor that affects lifespan. This means even if you’re not highly educated but have considerable wealth, you have a good chance of living a long life.

Unfortunately, we still don’t know which of the two factors — education level and socioeconomic status — has a greater influence on longevity.

Diseases during childhood 

Childhood and prenatal conditions are associated with a shorter lifespan. Prenatal conditions are those which affect the baby while it’s in the mother’s womb. There is a wide range of childhood and prenatal conditions and it’s beyond the scope of this article to discuss them all. If you were healthy throughout your childhood, you have a greater chance of living a long life.

Genetic factors

We don’t know how genetics directly affect our life spans but we do know that they play a role. That’s because many leading causes of death (like heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and diabetes) have a genetic aspect to them. For many of these conditions, the genetic component is not discussed enough and other explanations take the center stage. 


This is another factor you can’t do much about. In the US, life expectancy has been observed to be the highest among Hispanics, according to the CDC. Migration status also affects life expectancy but this effect varies depending on the home country of an immigrant. One explanation for this has to do with the socioeconomic differences that might exist between different ethnicities.

Want to Live Longer? Do These Things!

If you want to live a longer life, here are some things science shows you should try.

Build human relationships

You weren’t expecting this, right? But research has shown building healthy relationships and nurturing your social circle can do wonders for your life span. Only 3 social ties reduce the risk of death by more than 200%, according to this study!

Make healthy lifestyle choices 

We saw how poor lifestyle choices can cut your life short. Making healthy lifestyle choices has the opposite effect, so make sure to:

Be optimistic

Research has shown that pessimistic people have an increased risk of early death than optimistic people. Optimism counters the negative effects of long-term stress and anxiety on life expectancy. When you’re chronically stressed, the production of hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine are up regulated. Both of these hormones can have a deleterious effect on your health. 

Individuals suffering from anxiety and long-term stress have an increased risk of dying from conditions like lung cancer and heart disease.

Enjoy your tea!

If you’re a fan of caffeine, you may live longer. Both tea and coffee have been linked to a reduced risk for a number of fatal conditions. These include cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. But remember, keep your caffeine intake moderate. Too much caffeine isn’t good either.

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What Science Tells Us About How to Live Longer