How to live forever: lessons of historyBMJ 2000; 321 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7276.1580 (Published 23 December 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1580
All rapid responses
Shapin and Martyn did a sound analysis.1 I want to contribute some
thoughts remarking actual evidence and intuitive wisdom declared by many
Dietary balance is indeed a constant recipe for longevity. Obesity
and Diabetes shorten lifespan. Caloric restriction consistently prolongs
it.2 Physical activity is another validated advice.People,even elderly,
with higher exercise capacity, have a lower mortality.3 They also tend to
have lower body mass index, resting heart rate (RHR), Pulse X mass Index
and global cardiovascular risk.2 Measures that lower RHR (physical,
psychological, philosophical, spiritual or pharmacological, like
betablockers) tend to reduce mortality.2 This is understandable when we
consider the actual theories about ageing and death: adrenergic-metabolic,
oxidative, inflammatory, endothelial dysfunction, atheromas,thrombus,
ischaemia, infarction, arrhythmias, etc.
Longer life must not be boring or too restrictive. Some people, for
fear of death, live in some kind of health "slavery" (Hebrew 2:15). A
calmed and joyful heart is "life" (Proverbs 14:30). Before we die, we
should eat, drink, enjoy life, wife, family, friends, job, learning,
creativity, with balance and gratitude for this gifts (Ecclesiastes 9: 7-
Many old people advise: to have a life that is occupied, moderate and
honest. Work hard and enjoy your job, but have enough rest, relax, some
wine and few disgusts. Eat everything moderately. Have humor and laugh.
Have self esteem and optimism. Be communicative. Enjoy learning and life.
An important question: are about 120 years the limits of human
lifespan? Much actual evidence points to that, but the last word is not
Prof. Dr. med. Enrique Sànchez-Delgado
Member of the Executive Committee of the International Society of Internal
Medicine (ISIM) and of the Asociaciòn Nicaraguense de Medicina Interna
1. Shapin S, Martyn C. How to live forever: lessons of history. BMJ 2000;
2. Ross G, Stier J, Lloyd-Jones DM, Levy D, Sànchez-Delgado E, et al.
Lifetime risk of developing coronary heart disease. Lancet 1999; 353: 924-
3. Goraya TY, Jacobsen SJ, Pellikka PA, Miller TD, Khan A, et al.
Prognostic value of treadmill exercise testing in elderly persons. Ann
Intern Med. 2000; 132: 862-970.
Competing interests: No competing interests