There must really be something different about the Japanese—it could be their way of life, their culture, or even the philosophies that govern their decisions. Whatever it is, it has obviously contributed to one of the things for which Japan is statistically excellent: according to the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations, Japanese people, at an average of 82.6 years old, have the highest life expectancy in the world.
What could the Japanese be doing that people in other parts of the world are missing out on? A study published in the August 5, 2008 issue of Journal of American College of Cardiology compared the health of middle-aged white men and Japanese-American men to that of Japanese men living in Japan.
In comparing the overall health of the three groups (which they obtained through a physical exam, a lifestyle questionnaire, and the standard blood tests for cardiovascular health), researchers were able to remove genes from the equation of long life expectancy: “Our study clearly demonstrated that whites and Japanese-Americans have similar levels of atherosclerosis [that is, plaque build-up in the arteries], which are much higher than in the Japanese in Japan. This indicates that much lower death rates from coronary heart disease in the Japanese in Japan is very unlikely due to genetic factors,” says researcher Akira Sekikawa, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, PA.
So, what could be the big difference? Dr. Sekikawa infers, “The death rate from coronary heart disease in Japan has always been puzzlingly low… the very low rates of coronary heart disease… may be due to their lifelong high consumption of fish.”