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Thread: A Mini Non-Scientific Observation on Longevity page

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    JoanieL's Avatar
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    A Mini Non-Scientific Observation on Longevity

    The other day, I was watching shows and clips from the Dean Martin Roast series (these happened a few times a year from about 1974-1984), and I started to notice that a lot of the people who appeared on the show had lived a long time.

    Wondering if it were just my imagination, I started jotting down the names of the people on the dais in the various shows and clips.

    The names I wrote down were: Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Nipsey Russell, Flip Wilson, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Dean Martin, Ronald Reagan, Howard Cosell, Don Rickles, Billy Graham, Sugar Ray Robinson, Jimmy Stewart, General Omar Bradley, Mark Spitz, Phyllis Diller, Johnny Bench, John Wayne, Ginger Rogers, Foster Brooks, Peter Falk, Sammy Davis, Jr., Johnny Carson, Paul Lynde, George Burns, Milton Berle, Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford.

    This is hardly representative of the population in general. It is heavily Caucasian, heavily male, and most are entertainers.

    The only thing I noticed that all had in common were that they were affluent adults at the time of broadcast. Again not representative of the population at large.

    Not all had been affluent at birth however, so not all had lived their entire lives economically stress-free.

    As far as weight is concerned, General Bradley (who was near the end of his life) and Don Rickles (who is still alive at 86) were the only ones who appeared overweight, and Zsa Zsa (still alive at 95) certainly was more voluptuous than is considered healthy today.

    So, we’re talking about folks who lived during the meat and potatoes era, some drank and smoked, and until around the 1980s, there wasn’t an emphasis on exercising for the average person. Mark Spitz, Johnny Bench, and Sugar Ray Robinson, because of their careers, exercised and trained. Ginger Rogers was a dancer. A lot of these guys played golf in their leisure time, and while not the same as busting a nut in a gym, you do walk out in the sunshine for a few hours. I’m guessing that General Bradley, in his younger days, had to maintain a certain level of fitness. And since many of these people lived in Southern CA and were affluent, some of them had swimming pools.

    Anyway, I googled the names on my list to find out if they really had lived a long time. For those still living, I used current age, which skews the average down a bit from where it will be when those five people die.

    Average life span of that group: 81.5. And just to make sure the living weren’t skewing that number too much, I took them out and then the average was 81.7. Also, the same number of people died younger than 85 as lived older than 85.

    The average US life span in 1980 was 74. In 2012 it was 78. So, this group beats the 1980 life span by 7.5 years and last year’s life span by 3.5 years (not much, but I think the 1980 one is more applicable to this group).

    So, how to account for this? Is it affluence – the rich live less stressfully with concerns such as paying bills and medical care? Do entertainers live a long time because they’re doing what they love? (I understand that my sample isn’t even close to being scientific or random because the producers of the show chose it for me.)

    What do you all think?
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    sbhikes's Avatar
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    Life expectancy in the US in 1927 (85 years ago) was only 59 for men, 62.1 for women. What I don't quite understand is where the number comes from. Does it mean that in 1927 people born that year were expected and projected to live that long? Or does it mean that looking back, people born in 1927 have in actuality lived that long? In any case, they are outliers for their generation.

    Confounding your observation is that these people at the Dean Martin roast were all part of a special group of friends and colleagues of Dean Martin and part of a special group of colleagues from an unusual era of humanity--an era of popular culture where people like that appear in your home almost like family (I always considered Lucille Ball to be like a 2nd mom to me I saw her on TV so much in my childhood). It makes sense they'd keep coming back to this event until they were all gone. There is no other outcome but to eventually see the oldest celebrities at this event.

    They are also members of a generation that experienced incredible things: medical discoveries, affluence unheard of for our nation and for ordinary people living in it, enormous advances for women, etc. They also lived as children during a time when fast food and junk food were rare, pesticides and pollution had not yet accumulated to current levels, and large parts of the globe were still pristine, untouched and unknown. Children still played outside. Labor-saving devices did not exist. Television didn't exist. Etc.

    It should be interesting to see what can be observed of people born when I was born, or born more recently. Will we live long? Will we be healthy in our old ages? Will xenoestrogens do us in? Will pollution and the loss of biodiversity in the world make us sick?
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    I can squat 180lbs, press 72.5lbs and deadlift 185lbs

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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes View Post
    Life expectancy in the US in 1927 (85 years ago) was only 59 for men, 62.1 for women. What I don't quite understand is where the number comes from. Does it mean that in 1927 people born that year were expected and projected to live that long? Or does it mean that looking back, people born in 1927 have in actuality lived that long? In any case, they are outliers for their generation.

    Confounding your observation is that these people at the Dean Martin roast were all part of a special group of friends and colleagues of Dean Martin and part of a special group of colleagues from an unusual era of humanity--an era of popular culture where people like that appear in your home almost like family (I always considered Lucille Ball to be like a 2nd mom to me I saw her on TV so much in my childhood). It makes sense they'd keep coming back to this event until they were all gone. There is no other outcome but to eventually see the oldest celebrities at this event.

    They are also members of a generation that experienced incredible things: medical discoveries, affluence unheard of for our nation and for ordinary people living in it, enormous advances for women, etc. They also lived as children during a time when fast food and junk food were rare, pesticides and pollution had not yet accumulated to current levels, and large parts of the globe were still pristine, untouched and unknown. Children still played outside. Labor-saving devices did not exist. Television didn't exist. Etc.

    It should be interesting to see what can be observed of people born when I was born, or born more recently. Will we live long? Will we be healthy in our old ages? Will xenoestrogens do us in? Will pollution and the loss of biodiversity in the world make us sick?
    "Life Expectancy" means that in 1927 people born that year were expected and projected to live that long. Actuaries use a nearly Bell curve, meaning that their 'expectancy' is an average. People born from 1910 to 1925 had a very high accident rate of death, from both wars and industry. For people born in 1937, when Social Security started at 65, male life expectancy was 66.5 years. Than means 1.5 years of "those golden years". Work till you die was, and still is, the policy.

    Yes, that group lived unusually long, but I don't think they were unusual, except that they all managed to avoid accidental deaths.

    Today the children are so unhealthy and so sedentary that I think, even though surgery abilities have increased by many times, they will die younger. This is because childhood health is of critical importance. People who were children from 1910 to 1950 ate good, healthy food in the US.

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    So if the life expectancy charts you see that say that in 1927 it was projected they'd live to be 59 years old, what was the actual result? Were the predictions accurate? Do they revise the predictions over time? I mean, in 1927 they could not have imagined all the advances and changes to our culture and way of life.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    I can squat 180lbs, press 72.5lbs and deadlift 185lbs

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    Depending on which government or actuary, life expectancy is generally an average of some kind - like an average of actual lifespans for the last five years (only an example). Some tables will give you more specific info, like if you are 50 in 2012, how many more years can you expect to live.

    Also, averages being what they are, an average lifespan might be 75, for eg., yet not many in the measured group may actually die at that age. Depending on factors like infant mortality, childhood diseases, number of women who die giving birth, etc., you can have an average that isn't very applicable to reality. The average of one child who dies before the age of one, and one adult who lives to be one hundred is about fifty, but neither of those two people lived anywhere close to that average. Sometimes the median clarifies (you need more than two in the population) a little which is why I added the fact that as many of those people died under 85 as lived over 85.

    There's also the idea that the longer you've lived, the longer you'll live. That sounds like a duh statement, but what it basically means is that for every age group you pass without dying from the things that kill them, the longer you'll live. So if you get through childhood years without dying from childhood diseases, your life expectancy goes up. If don't die in childbirth or the military, your life expectancy goes up. And so on. So, figure if you live to be 70, you've lived through a lot of things that bring the average down, and so your odds of seeing 80 might be better than the average newborn - this is also dependent on where you're born, access to clean water and medical care, etc.

    The 1960s "Rat Pack" didn't fair as well as the group I used, though they're included in that group. Sammy Davis, Jr. (65), Dean Martin (78), Frank Sinatra (83), Peter Lawford (61), and Joey Bishop (89) averaged about a 75 year lifespan.

    The people who are still alive: Mark Spitz (62), Johnny Bench (65), Don Rickles (86), Billy Graham (94), and Zsa Zsa Gabor (95).

    sbhikes, I agree that no tv, etc., childhood games that required physical activity, and increased medical advances were all key. Also the food source, as you mentioned. Sometimes it does feel like for every step forward in medicine, we take a step backward in living conditions. If you consider how medically advanced we are even since the 1970s and compare it to how many fake foods we now eat, it seems like a draw. Smoking is down and we claim we exercise more, yet life expectancy in the last 32 years (1980-2012) has only gone up about 4 years.

    Anyway, it was a fun little exercise, even if it wasn't scientific.


    Here's a short explanation on life expectancy and "the longer you've lived, the longer you'll live," which I wasn't sure if I explained in a logical way. http://longevity.about.com/od/longev...ife_expect.htm
    Last edited by JoanieL; 01-30-2013 at 11:52 PM. Reason: to add a link
    "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

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    well ,i think so,in 1927 they could not have imagined all the advances and changes to our culture and way of life.thanks

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    Maybe it was all the laughter in their lives. It make not have been a factor in their younger years but it has been shown to be a stress reliever which can contribute to longevity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AuroraB View Post
    Maybe it was all the laughter in their lives. It make not have been a factor in their younger years but it has been shown to be a stress reliever which can contribute to longevity.
    Oh, I hope that was a factor! I have a very quirky sense of humor and can find levity in almost any situation.
    "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

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    Were they all italian or jewish? Check for that.


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    Quote Originally Posted by JoanieL View Post
    Oh, I hope that was a factor! I have a very quirky sense of humor and can find levity in almost any situation.
    You and me, Babe! You just gotta chuckle sometimes....

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