Study: Mississippians believe they will live 5 years past life expectancy; many would not take pill if it let them live forever

Published 2:44 pm Thursday, February 16, 2023

A new study has found that the average Mississippian believes they will live until the age of 79 – a full five years above the state average (74), and 1 year above the national life expectancy.

Turns out, people in The Magnolia State are among the most optimistic in America about their longevity.

When you delve a bit deeper, there are actually several reasons that Mississippians may be justified in being confident of surpassing their state life expectancy: Life expectancy in Mississippi is below the national average due to several factors, including high rates of poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

According to data from the US Census Bureau, Mississippi has the highest poverty rate in the country, with 19.4% of the population living below the poverty line in 2020. This lack of financial stability can lead to limited access to healthy food options and preventable medical care.

Additionally, Mississippi has high rates of smoking and obesity, which are major contributors to lower life expectancy.

According to the CDC, in 2020, 26.4% of adults in Mississippi smoked, compared to the national average of 14.7%, and 36.2% of adults in the state had obesity, compared to the national average of 30.5%. These factors all contribute to Mississippi’s lower life expectancy compared to the rest of the country.

Nationally, however, Americans predict they will live for 2 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 6 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% 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% — 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, HelloPharmacist also asked respondents a (semi) hypothetical question:

“If scientists developed a pill that would allow you to live forever, would you take it?”

Surprisingly, a significant 42% said that they would. A quarter (24%) of respondents would be indifferent, while a third — 34% — 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% 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% of US 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% – said they’d prefer to outlive their partner.