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Ever wondered whether humans would live longer if they would be born and lived in a constant cold environment?

This idea might seem unfeasible but think about raw meat and its "validity" once you thaw it. Hence do seasons have an impact on our life span? Do temperature shifts ( especially hot temperatures) help or are they detrimental to our life span?

  • May 15 2011: Andreea, if you look at raw life expectancy numbers, you will likely find that people in colder climates tend to live longer. But countries with colder climates are more likely to be developed and equatorial countries are developing - so there are significant quality of life differences. In terms of mortality, there are a number of studies that suggests increased risk of heart attacks in extreme cold weather. There are even more studies that show that extreme high temperatures also increase mortality. In both cases, it is usually the extremes - the anomalies - that are a problem. Links to some abstracts are below.
    • May 15 2011: Thank Julie Ann. These are helpful insights into extreme temperatures. So would it be safe to say that we just have to find the right temperature to make a difference in our life span? Is there such a place on Earth?
      Also do you think evolution of humanity has reached its ultimate level or are we still capable of adapting evolving depending on the environment here on Earth?
      • May 21 2011: Andreea, you pose some tough questions! I am not aware of any studies that define an ideal temperature for longevity. There are many other overriding risk factors relating to diet and lifestyle. You have probably seen Dan Buettner's talk which identifies geographic areas of longevity - all with little environmental pollution and some isolated. Humans seem to adapt to their environments whether it be the frigid temperatures in the north or the searing temperatures in equatorial deserts drylands.

        With regards to evolution, this is a continuous process so we are always adapting. The problem is that if changes occur too quickly, the processes of adaptation may not be able to keep pace.
        • May 26 2011: Curiosity is a killer sometimes:)
          Agreed there are many factors contributing to our span of life as humans are complex but still makes me wonder what percentage does temperature ( without any seasonal shifting) plays in the human equation.

          As for evolution could be that because of all the "comfort" we created around us with technology and not only, we may have actually made our evolution lazy and will eventually be stagnant. We are not exposed to changes in the same way a bacteria or a worm would be.
      • May 28 2011: Andreea, I suspect that a moderately cool temperature (10-25 C) is ideal, but acclimatization and the stresses caused by temps outside of the zone of acclimatization are important.

        Evolution? - I won't disagree that the western world is a bit coddled and I think that does affect the process. I think the greatest impact is actually from food and over-medicating and it is evident that technology leads to lack of physical activity and to the poor quality lifestyles. I was actually watching Jaimie Oliver's Food Rev in LA last night. I had never watched it before (don't watch much tv - sorry) and was shocked to see the resistance to him wanting to enter the cafeteria. I am still stunned - land of the free? really? In North America, lifestyle is the culprit but technology is only partly to be blamed, I think.
        • May 29 2011: I don't watch TV at all, so not familiar with the show but i don't need to watch TV in order to see the true face of "freedom" in N.America. I mean the question of freedom is a whole new discussion but it was interesting for me to discover a whole new concept of freedom as compared to ex communist countries. And I must say the freedom in N.America is not as "free" as one would imagine. It's more like a fenced freedom zone.

          But i digress...., and yes i agree food and over medication all those have an influence. i guess I just feel like research is moving at a slower pace than it could.
      • May 30 2011: Andreea, the studies of the past 30 years have focused on major risk factors such as smoking, diet, quality of life, environment. Statistics Canada indicates that life expectancy of the Inuit in northern areas, in 2001, was 12 years less than for Canada as a whole - a clear statement that cold climate by itself does not prolong life. Extreme temperatures will kill (heat waves, for example) and hot sunny days will also exacerbate air pollution, with photochemical smog. However, research is really focused on the important and significant risk factors as noted above.