Roundup: U.S. Life Expectancy Lags Behind Other Nations; Exercise Tied to Improved Breast Cancer Outcomes

Although improving, Americans will continue to have one of the lowest life expectancies of any developed nation, a new study projects.

American women will live an average of more than 83 years by 2030, while men may reach an average of 80, according to the study in The Lancet. These figures are up from the most current 2010 estimates. Now, American women live to an average of 81, while men live to an average of 77.

“Our projections show continued increases in longevity, and the need for careful planning for health and social services and pensions,” researchers concluded.

After reviewing statistics across 35 developed nations, researchers found that South Korea is projected to provide the longest life spans in the future.

South Korean women, as of 2010, are expected to live, on average, to about 84 years of age. But there’s a possibility that figure will reach more than 90 by 2030, the study’s authors said. That would mark the world’s first projected life span at 90 or longer.

Among men, South Korean men also were at the top, with 2030 projections putting longevity at just over 84. Australian and Swiss men were right behind, with both populations expected to reach 84 years of age.

A growing obesity epidemic and rising economic inequality were among the factors cited for the U.S. lagging behind other developed nations when it comes to life expectancy. “The poor recent and projected U.S. performance is at least partly due to high and inequitable mortality from chronic diseases and violence, and insufficient and inequitable health care,” the study states.

In 2015, average life expectancy globally at birth was 71.4 years, according to the World Health Organization.

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Exercise Tied to Improved Breast Cancer Outcomes

Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer by 40 percent, compared to women who didn’t exercise, researchers found in a new report.

However, less than 13 percent of women with breast cancer complete the recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-intense physical activity. As part of the new study, researchers looked at nearly 70 articles that focused on lifestyle modifications and their impact on the risk of breast cancer recurrence and survival after a breast cancer diagnosis.

Gaining weight during or after treatment for breast cancer can increase the risk of recurrence and decreases survival rates, the review also found.

“Exercise has the greatest benefit on lowering risk of recurrence and has many other secondary benefits like helping with weight management (which itself lowers the risk of recurrence) and fewer side effects from chemo, radiation, and hormone therapy,” Ellen Warner, M.D., from the Odette Cancer Center at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, who coauthored the research, told Reuters Health.

The new study concluded that several lifestyle changes can improve outcomes after a breast cancer diagnosis, but exercise is by far the best routine to establish for lowering risks of recurrence.

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Belly Fat is Even Worse for Your Health Than Previously Thought

Several studies have found that a concentration of belly fat in overweight individuals can contribute to a higher risk for heart disease. New research has bolstered this assertion, concluding that abdominal fat can either cause or be a factor in developing type 2 diabetes, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.

The latest study makes the strongest case yet for overweight people to shed pounds and reduce belly fat through improved nutrition and exercise.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston analyzed genomic data and medical records from more than 400,000 people. They found that people who carried combinations of genes that predisposed them to higher waist-to-hip ratios (a measure of abdominal obesity) were 77 percent more likely to have diabetes, and 46 percent more likely to have coronary heart disease, compared to those who weren’t predisposed.

Despite having a genetic inclination for developing belly fat, which has been linked to premature death in other studies, there is something these folks can do to dramatically lower their risks, including dieting and regular exercise, researchers emphasize.

“The amount of fat that you store around your stomach is influenced by genetics, but it’s also strongly influenced by exercise and diet,” said lead author Connor Emdin, a researcher at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. “If you don’t exercise and you don’t eat healthy, you’re going to have a lot more fat around your abdomen.”

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