Lifestyle, medicine produce longer life
A study shows that Hawaii's life expectancy is the nation's highest and has increased at a faster pace than the national average.
HAWAII has been recognized in past years as having the highest life expectancy in the nation. Islanders are continuing to increase their longevity because of the use of newer medicines, according to a study by a Columbia University professor. New drugs are no panacea, and many Hawaii residents would be wise to improve their lifestyles.
The state's long life expectancy often has been attributed to its clean air and mild climate conducive to outdoor recreation. A study last year said another factor is Hawaii's large percentage of Asian Americans, who have lower incidence of a variety of diseases and have less risky lifestyles.
A study by Frank R. Lichtenberg sponsored by the Manhattan Institute for Medical Research finds that Hawaii's life expectancy of 81.3 years is the nation's longest, a full year longer than runner-up Minnesota. Hawaii's longevity has increased by 2.4 years from 1991 to 2004, placing it among the top dozen states in increased life expectancy during that period.
The most improved states, those with increases of three years or more, were those where access to newer drugs in Medicaid and Medicare programs had increased the most. Lichtenberg, whose previous research has been funded by unrestricted grants from pharmaceutical companies, found that two-thirds of the potential increase in longevity is attributable to use of newer drugs.
Lichtenberg says his research found that "medical innovation" was a more important factor than rates of obesity, smoking and HIV-AIDS infections and higher incomes, which can cause stress. If obesity and incomes had stayed the same through the 13-year period, he says, life expectancy would have risen by 3.88 years rather than 2.33 years, the national average of increase.
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