A new book that pulls together more than 25,000 studies on health, disease prevention and longevity not only suggests ways for readers to become "younger" but tells them exactly how much difference each health decision, or combination of decisions, will make.
"RealAge: Are You as Young as You Can Be?" by Dr. Michael Roizen, chairman of anesthesiology and critical care at the University of Chicago, consolidates the often conflicting findings concerning the benefits of a healthy diet, regular exercise, and other personal habits or lifestyle choices. In an unusual twist, the costs and benefits of these bad and good habits are calculated according to how they affect the reader's probable lifespan, expressed in terms of what Roizen calls a person's "RealAge."
RealAge begins with a person's chronological age, how long ago they were born, then tacks on months and years for added wear and tear, such as smoking or high blood pressure, or peels off time for superior maintenance, such as regular exercise or low cholesterol.
"Doctors have not done a good enough job of explaining why people should follow our recommendations to motivate people to start and continue healthy choices," said Roizen. "We wanted to find a way to shift something that was negative and far in the future, like cutting back on dietary fat to avoid a heart attack 20 years from now, into something positive and immediate, like being a little younger next Tuesday."
"RealAge," he explained, "unifies an array of health topics by determining exactly how they affect youth and vigor. It serves as a guide to making informed choices. RealAge places a value on those choices just as a price tag reveals the value of a product."
The idea actually came from a patient, an investment banker with high
blood pressure who wasn't taking his medications. Why, Roizen wondered,
would the beneficiary of a lifetime of delayed gratification, a bright,
wealthy, highly educated person who clearly understood the conse
Contact: John Easton
University of Chicago Medical Center