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Legacy in the News: Legacy Health Chief of Women's Services discusses CDC report showing declining life span for some US women

KGW NewsChannel 8

March 5, 2013

For years, health experts have said women are expected to live longer than men, but a new study shows the gap is closing. The research from the University of Wisconsin offers compelling evidence that life expectancy for some U.S. women is falling.

A baby girl born in 2013 can expect to live 81 years. A baby boy has a life expectancy of 76. Women have enjoyed a five year advantage for decades, but the analysis of data shows a decline in 43 percent of U.S. counties.

”I have been waiting for this to happen,” said Dr. Duncan Neilson, chief of Women’s Services at Legacy Health.

He points to obesity, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition as reasons for the change.

“What affects women differently than men? Something called metabolic syndrome. It jumps out because it’s more common in women than men and it’s a killer,” remarked Neilson.

The syndrome is tied to hormonal changes and menopause, as well as obesity.

“Women also have the ongoing stress of multi-tasking, taking care of kids and trying to work. That can be taxing on a body,” said Neilson.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to live to 100?” asked Progress Ridge Fulcrum Fitness client Linda Hunt. She works out up to five times a week hoping to add years to her life. Her strength training and aerobic exercise are a good start said Neilson.

“Adding a Mediterranean diet is what I also recommend,” he explained. “Plenty of fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts. There’s evidence this can protect women from metabolic syndrome.”

The new research shows women in rural areas with limited access to good medical care, proper nutrition and regular exercise are more likely to die younger.

“It takes a while for factors to add up and bring a change in the numbers, and with unhealthy lifestyle trends what they are, we are just starting to see the shift in death rates,” concluded Neilson.

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