A new study of 3,000 respondents by HelloPharmacist has found that the average Californian believes they will live until the age of 84 – a full three years above the state average (81), and six years above the national life expectancy. Turns out, people in The Golden State are among the most optimistic in America about their longevity.
When you delve a bit deeper, there are actually several reasons that Californians may be justified in being confident of surpassing their state life expectancy: According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the life expectancy in California was 80.9 years in 2020, compared to the national average of 78.7 years. Additionally, California has a higher number of primary care physicians, lower rates of smoking and obesity and a greater access to healthy food options, which all contribute to a higher life expectancy in the state. These factors, along with the state’s investments in medical research and cutting-edge medical technologies, have resulted in a higher standard of living and a longer life expectancy for California residents.
Nationally, however, Americans predict they will live two years longer than the average life expectancy of 78, at 80 years old.
Broken down by state, HelloPharmacist found that Rhode Islanders and Nevadans were equally the most optimistic about their longevity, saying they think they will live for six years above the state average (79.4 in Rhode Island, and 78.1 in Nevada), thus living to a ripe old age of 85 and 84. And New Mexicans were the least optimistic.
HelloPharmacist has created an interactive map of life expectancy across the country.
The study also uncovered intriguing insights — 50 percent of those surveyed expressed their willingness to participate in drug trials as a guinea pig if it was said to double their lifespan. This percentage appears surprisingly high as drug trials come with serious inherent risks and challenges.
Over a third – 38 percent – say they take supplements and medications for the specific purpose of living a longer life. However, it should be noted that vitamin supplements are not actually a proven way to increase lifespan. While some studies have suggested that certain vitamins, such as vitamin D and vitamin E, may have some beneficial effects on health and longevity, the majority of research does not support the idea that taking vitamin supplements will help people live longer.
Following reports that Silicon Valley is pouring billions into biotech start-ups with the goal of discovering either how to extend longevity, or live forever, HelloPharmacistalso asked respondents a (semi) hypothetical question: “If scientists developed a pill which would allow you to live forever, would you take it?”
Surprisingly, a significant 42 percent said that they would. A quarter (24 percent) of respondents would be indifferent, while a third – 34 percent – would be actively against it.
On the face of it, it makes sense that people would want to live as long as possible. However, doing so would raise ethical, societal, and environmental concerns.
Brian Staiger of HelloPharmacist explains: “The possibility of eternal life raises several concerns, including overpopulation, depletion of resources, and philosophical questions about the significance of death and the value of life. Furthermore, it could create disparities in wealth and resource distribution, where only a limited number have access to life-prolonging treatment. This could potentially alter established cultural beliefs and lead to significant social changes.”
Additionally, 80 percent of respondents also said they would happily run one mile per day if it would guarantee they would live for an extra five years. However, it does seem as if public messaging about the value of exercise is not getting through enough – research suggests that many Americans simply don’t get enough exercise.
According to the CDC, only about 20 percent of U.S. adults meet the recommended guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. Scientists often refer to exercise as the real ‘miracle drug’ as it carries so many health benefits; done regularly, it can improve cardiovascular health, increase muscle and bone strength, decrease the risk of chronic diseases, improve mental health and cognitive function and even help with weight management.
Finally, the survey revealed that over half – 52 percent – said they’d prefer to outlive their partner.
“Physical activity and proper nutrition are the keys to unlocking a longer, healthier life. By taking care of our bodies through exercise and nourishing them with wholesome foods, we set the foundation for a life filled with vitality and longevity.” said Staiger.