EDITORIAL

Japan Holds On To
Life Expectancy Record for Women

A s of today (July 28, 2010), among the verified supercentenarians (110+) still living on planet Earth are 21 people in Japan and 21 in the United States.1 Of these, 20 are women and one is a man, for each country. The oldest person is 114+, a woman living in Texas. However, given that the population of the U.S. is approaching 310 million, and that of Japan is nearing 128 million, on a per capita basis Japan is out in front of the lifespan race.

But when it comes to centenarians (100–109), the United States currently has the greatest number in the world, estimated at 96,548 as of November 1, 2008,2 whereas Japan is second, with 36,276 as of September 2008. Here the U.S. has the upper hand. With the total U.S population 2.42 times larger than Japan, the number of centenarians is 2.66 times larger than Japan’s.

Nonetheless, Japanese women have just been reported to possess the greatest life expectancy of the women of any country in the world; they currently average a life span of 86.44 years, as of 2009.3 For 25 years, Japanese women have held the #1 position. Japanese men do not fare quite as well; they have an average life expectancy of 79.59 years, the fifth longest in the world. By contrast, American women have a life expectancy of 80.69 years, while American men average only 75.65 years.

All this is a prefix for a scientific conference that I just attended in Sapporo, on the northern island of Hokkaido (the “wild west” of Japan), billed as “The 18th International Congress for Nutrition and Integrative Medicine.” The principal focus was on Oligonol, an anti-obesity nutrient extracted and polymerized from lychee fruit and green tea, and especially Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC), an anticancer medicinal mushroom extract, also offering broad spectrum immune support. Both of these nutrients are pleiotropic, having multiple mechanisms that lend themselves to great interest among scientists and doctors who have studied these materials, both in vitro and in vivo. Indeed, a multitude of scientific papers were presented on the two nutrients, including animal studies, human double-blind placebo-controlled studies, and case studies.

The reason for Japan’s increase in life expectancy is attributed to improvements in the treatment of cardiac disorders, strokes and cancer, the three main causes of fatality. It is no coincidence that much of the research presented at the Sapporo conference was aimed indirectly at the first two disorders (via improvements for obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes) and directly at cancer, as a therapeutic adjunctive and as a stand alone preventive.

An interesting side note is the reason offered for the gap between male and female life expectancy which widened last year from 2008. In a statement attributed to The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (from an official who declined to be named), “One of the reasons for [the widening gap] is [that] more, especially young men, committed suicide compared with 2008.”4 “Men are more exposed to the realities of society and have more things to worry about, particularly at work,” the official added. More than 70 percent of the 32,845 people who committed suicides were men, reported the National Police Agency. It is ironic that Japan is the premier producer of tryptophan, a nutrient that could go a long way toward helping dispel depression that undoubtedly plays a role in suicide. By the way, one of the principle benefits of AHCC, the anticancer medicinal mushroom extract, was its ability to lift the veil of depression that accompanies many cancers, that result from suppressed immunity. In a series of case reports, when depression was swept away, the quality of life increased greatly. In one woman this meant allowing for the pleasure of sexual intercourse, something that had not been possible without pain during the cancer’s progression and prior to taking AHCC.

For greater health and longer life,

Will Block

  1. Cole LS. The Validated Living Supercentenarians Page. http://www.grg.org/. Updated July 27, 2010. Accessed July 28, 2010.
  2. Bureau of the Census. Older Americans Month: May 2010. Facts for Features. http://www.census.gov/newsroom. March 3, 2009.
  3. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Life expectancies at birth in some countries. http://www.mhlw.go.jp/ Accessed March 5, 2009.
  4. Anon. Japan women have longest lifespan for 25 years in row. Reuters Health, July 26, 2010.

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