Does Altitude Affect Life Expectancy?

Studies have shown that people who live at high altitudes tend to live longer than people who live at sea level, but researchers say that when other health and economic factors are taken into account, high altitudes do not seem to have a great effect on life expectancy. There is, however, strong evidence that living at higher altitude can decrease certain types of heart disease. Reasons offered for the beneficial effect of high altitude on cardiac health include better vitamin D metabolism and lower oxygen levels, which cause a person's genes to trigger the development of new blood vessels.

More about life expectancy at high altitudes:

  • Despite the possible cancer-prevention and cardiac benefits of living at high altitude, lower oxygen levels can be problematic for people who live with pulmonary problems and might actually contribute to a lower life expectancy for those people.

  • Colorado has the highest altitude of any US state. It also is considered to be one of the healthiest states, with low rates of obesity, cancer and heart disease.

  • Women do not seem to benefit from high altitudes as much as men do. Research suggests that women who live at high altitudes have lower concentrations of hormones called dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS). Lower levels of these hormones can result in decreased mental and physical well-being.

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Discussion Comments


I was about to forward this to a female acquaintance ... until I read that third bullet point.

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