Study Says Hawaii Residents Outlive Mainlanders

New Study Gives Controversial, Positive Information

 UPDATED 11:02 PM HST Jul 11, 2007
HONOLULU, Hawaii -

According to a new study, people in Hawaii live longer than anywhere else in the nation, but there's some controversy over why.

A new study by the Manhattan Institute showed the life expectancy in Hawaii is 81.3 years -- much higher than the national average of 77.9.

The study claimed that's because Hawaii has access to so many new medications. However, the study was funded by the pharmaceutical industry.

An age researcher, Dr. Bill Harris, said modern medicine is not making islanders live longer.

"Medical interventions only contribute about 3 percent to the increase life expectancy in the United States. So that's hogwash -- nonsense, " said Harris.

He said the higher age expectancy is because of lifestyle decisions.

"I think exercise has caught on in the last couple of decades," said Harris.

Harris cites Hawaii's large Asian population as a big contributing factor. People of Asian descent typically have a longer life expectancy. Other doctors agree that it is not just access to drugs that keeps seniors living longer.

"It's the clean environment that we have here; it's the healthier lifestyles and for, better or for worse, it's not a great health system but we do have better access to modern medicine and traditional healing arts," said Ira Zunin, a doctor with the Manakai O Malama Clinic.

Zunin said that people in Hawaii are twice as likely to use traditional methods like acupuncture.

The report did, however, cite some bad news about longevity: because of obesity and lack of exercise the younger generation is expected to have shorter life spans than their parents, for the first time in U.S. history.

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