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How Long Will I Live? ---Why Do Some
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June 20, 2016

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our panel of
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members
of our Editorial Board.

It's a dream many people have --- retire to Europe after a long,
hard life of toil, soak up the beauty and high-quality lifestyle and,
finally, relax.  And, as a side benefit, perhaps you'll even get to
live longer.

But just how long will you live? One hundred years, 80, 75? If
you were born in Europe or live there permanently, you are
among the luckiest people on the planet in terms of life
expectancy – but only if you live in certain countries.

You probably know that Europeans live longer than Americans on
average but did you know that there are big differences among
European countries in life expectancies?  Average life expectancy
across the most developed countries in Europe stood at 80.6
years in 2013, according to Eurostat. But that figure hides a
wealth of differences, especially when you add in countries from
Eastern Europe.

In fact, in one European country you can only expect to live until
69. While in five other countries lifespan tops 83 years. And men
and women fare differently in European countries. How long can
you expect to live, when you live in Europe?

How Long Are Europeans Living Today?

In order to look at how long people live in Europe it is important
to first consider that there are different definitions of “Europe”.

In terms of geography, the border stretches between Asia and
Europe and certain states have territory in both continents,
including Russia and Turkey.

The current European Union (EU-28) includes states such as
Cyprus, which geographically is in Asia. Other political definitions
of Europe include EU-15 – those states that were members of the
EU before 2004.

Eurostat says that in 2013, around five million people died in the
EU-28, which is roughly the same as over the past four decades.

And life expectancy in Europe is increasing, in general. Lifestyles
have become healthier, people have stopped smoking,
environmental conditions have improved, and advances have
been made in healthcare and medicine. This has been going on
across the globe but it has been happening over a longer period
of time in Europe, making the countries in the EU world leaders in
longevity. Over the last half century, life expectancy has increase
by around 10 years.

But that’s not the whole picture.

Who Lives the Longest in Europe?

You can’t expect to live to a very old age in every country in

On the plus side, measured by life expectancy from birth, the
longest lived are the Swiss, at 83.4 years. Switzerland ranks
second, one spot behind Japan, with life expectancy at almost 84
years (83.7), according to 2015 data from the World Health

Then comes a group of European countries --- Spain, Italy,
Sweden and France and  Luxembourg --- all bunched up around
82 to 82.
7 years.

Next are
Netherlands, Norway, Malta Monaco, Iceland, Cyprus,
with an average life expectancy of
just under 82 years.  

Austria, Greece, Finland, Portugal, Germany, Ireland, the
Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Malta have lifespans of 81

With a life expectancy of 80,
the last bunch of countries include
Slovenia, Belgium, and Denmark. This last group compares
to the US which has an average life expectancy of 79
years. The Czech Republic is lower at 78 years, while Estonia,
Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina come in at 77 years. Slovakia,
Montenegro, Macedonia are on 76 years, with Turkey (which is
not actually in Europe politically), Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary at
75. Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Romania and Albania have a
lifespan of 74. Armenia is at 71. Russia
is at 69.

Men and Women With Different Lifespans in Europe

Newly-born women in 2013 could expect to live 5.5 years more
than men in the EU. In certain countries the gender gap is even
larger – in Lithuania, the gap is 11.1 years, while in Netherlands
and the United Kingdom the gender gap is much smaller at 3.7
years, according to Eurostat.  

Let's take an example. In France, women have a life expectancy
of 85.4 years, while men have a life expectancy of 78.4, a
difference of 7 years.  In Spain, women can expect to live to 85.5
years on average, while men can expect to live to age 79.4, a
difference of 6 years.

Gender is not the only factor affecting how long different people
live in different countries in Europe.

We looked at recent data that shows lifespan in Europe is affected
by such diverse factors as obesity, diet and even alcohol.

Women in the UK Have Second-Shortest Lifespan Due to
Cancer, Diabetes?

Among the 15 most developed European countries, women in the
UK have the second-shortest average life expectancy and experts
suggest this could be linked to high death rates from cancer and
This is so, despite the fact that as UK residents, they
have free access to the highly regarded
National Health Service.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) European Health Report
2015 found that women in the UK could expect to live to 82.7
years – only women in Denmark have a shorter lifespan.

However, men in the UK can expect to live as long as their peers
in the EU-15.

Researchers link lower life expectancy among women with higher
rates of premature death from cancer, diabetes, respiratory
diseases and heart disease in the UK than other EU-15 states.

Among men, the death rate for these main four diseases was
decreasing in line with a decrease in other EU-15 states. But
among women in the UK, deaths from cancer, diabetes,
respiratory diseases and heart disease were above the EU-15

Life Expectancy Affected by Overweight, Obesity

In addition, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) European
Health Report 2015 showed that people in the UK had
significantly higher rates of being overweight (63.4 percent) and
obese (28.1 percent) compared to the average over the EU-15 of
56.9 percent and 22.7 percent. This could also account for the
fact that life expectancy in the UK is lower than in many other
European countries.

Obesity is a major factor influencing lifespan in Europe. Although
there are exceptions, the trend is that, the slimmer the population
is on average, the longer the lifespans.

In 2011 researchers at the London School of Hygiene and
Tropical Medicine reported that the “rising life expectancy trend in
wealthy nations may be coming to an end in the face of health
problems caused by widespread levels of obesity.”

Hazardous Drinking Affects How Long Some Europeans Live

Compared with the upward trend of life expectancy in countries
like the UK, Sweden, Spain and Italy, in countries such as Russia
the trend has been less positive.

Lifespans have fallen and risen dramatically over the past 25
years in Russia and experts point to changes in hazardous
drinking, among men especially, which are to blame.

Here's a shocker.  In 2008, the average Russian man could expect
to live to 61.8 years.  This compared with 77.9 in the UK.

A 2011 study from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical
Medicine reports that life expectancy is rising in Russia now due
largely to a reduction in the rate of alcohol-related deaths.  

European Healthcare Systems Affect How Long You Will Live

Spain is among the leaders in lifespan in Europe and its healthcare
system was also ranked seventh in the world in 2000, which the
World Health Organization compiled a table. France's health care
system is ranked first. This is compared to the UK at 18.

In Spain, despite rising levels of financial strife, the healthcare
system still provides all the healthcare any resident needs, no
matter how rich or poor.

According to the World Health Organization’s European Health
Report 2015, only one percent of the population in Spain
reported not having their medical needs met.

The Mediterranean Diet of Many Europeans Helps You Live a
Longer Life

You’ve probably heard a lot about the Mediterranean diet and its
effect on health.

Many countries in Europe are famed for following the
Mediterranean diet, such as Spain and Greece, where they also
have high life expectancies.

A 2013 report from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III in Spain
shows that eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts and olive oil
helped reduce the rate of heart attack and stroke by 30 percent.

The study looked at data from 7,500 older people. However,
figures could be different soon. Why? The rate of fruit and
vegetable consumption is falling in Spain and other countries,
according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and
Development’s (OECD) list of advanced economies 2015.

Heart Disease Risk is Falling in Europe – People Live Longer

Spain has shot up in the list of lifespan due, in part, to declining
deaths from cardiovascular disease, according to 2015 data from
the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s
(OECD) list of advanced economies.

Spain, France, Portugal, and the Netherlands have the lowest
rates of mortality for heart disease, alongside South Korea and
Japan in the rest of the world.

The OECD suggests that part of the explanation for the drop in
deaths from heart disease could be the drop in the number of
people smoking – 20 percent of adults in developed nations in
Europe smoke, according to the study, which is down from 2000.

Your Socioeconomic Status in Europe Affects How Long You

No matter where you live in Europe, if you have a higher
socioeconomic status you are less likely to die from certain
causes, meaning you are more likely to live longer.

In 2006, scientists from Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The
Netherlands showed that among men aged 60 years and above,
men of lower socioeconomic status were 22 percent more likely to
die from heart disease than richer men.  And, poorer women were
36 percent more likely to die from heart disease. The study looked
at 10 western European populations.

The difference in lifespan due to socioeconomic status was
evident in all countries, but the difference was more pronounced
in northern European countries than southern European
countries.  In particular, large differences were found in eastern
European countries and the Baltic region, according to a 2008
study from the Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam,
The Netherlands.

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Europeans differ greatly in their
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