~ S P E C I A L ~ F E A T U R E ~
What's Your RealAge?
by Michael F. Roizen, M.D.
This article is based on the revolutionary new book, RealAge: Are You as Young as You Can Be? by Dr. Michael F. Roizen. RealAge is the culmination of years of research into the aging process. Dr. Roizen and a team of scientists and computer programmers analyzed the mortality rates in over 25,000 medical studies to determine how our behavior affects the aging process.
The result is the RealAge Test -- over 150 questions about our habits and traits that yields a unique RealAge for virtually every user. We all know people who look and act younger than their years. Oprah Winfrey took the test on a recent show, and learned her RealAge was more than six years less than her calendar age. Dr. Roizen is 53, but his RealAge is 38. If you were an average person, your RealAge would be the same as your chronological age. But no one is "average," so take the test for yourself and find out.
You can take a short version of the RealAge test at RealAge.com, where you'll also find a vast library of health-related information. Or you can take the full version of the test in Dr. Roizen's book, RealAge, available for purchase here or at RealAge.com. More information about the book and Dr. Roizen follows the article below.
What's Your RealAge?
By Michael F. Roizen, M.D.
How old are you? How old would you like to be? What if I told you, you can get younger? And, what if I told you it's not that hard to do?
RealAge is a brand new scientifically valid system that calculates your rate of aging. People of the same calendar age are very often different ages biologically. That is, some of us age faster than others. Notably, simple behavioral choices make a big difference in a person's rate of aging. Learn your RealAge. And learn what's been shown scientifically that you can do to make yourself younger. And it's easier than you thought
RealAge: The Net Present Value of Health Choices
Despite 30 years of advancement in our knowledge about the relationship between health behavior and longevity, preventive medicine has largely been a failure. Everyone knows things that will help them live longer, healthier lives -- exercising, eating a diet low in saturated fats, taking vitamins -- but few actually do them. Fewer than 15% of Americans get adequate amounts of exercise, even though more than 90% of those surveyed say that exercise is important to health Why is there such disparity?
Because the goal seems too remote. It is difficult to be motivated to take actions today that have a pay-off 30 years down the line. Who will take calcium at 30 thinking that there won't be a benefit until age 80?
Enter RealAge. RealAge is a way of giving a value to health choices in the present. By using the economic concept of Net Present Value, RealAge is able to place a "years younger" value on present day health choices. For example, exercising makes your RealAge as much as 9 years younger. And, taking Vitamin C, D, E, Folate, B6 and Calcium regularly can make your RealAge as much as 6 years younger.
A Currency for Health
We all know behavioral choices that are good for us, such as taking vitamins, lifting weights, and wearing seatbelts. We all know behavioral choices that are bad for us, such as smoking, eating too much, and not exercising. But, how are we to compare these vastly different decisions? RealAge is a system which converts the associated risk of all these behaviors into a single currency, the rate of aging. Some choices make us older, and some choices make us younger. RealAge shows just how much of a difference each choice makes. Sure, we all know that flossing your teeth is good for us, but did you know it can make more than a 6 year difference in your RealAge? Or did you know that regularly wearing a seatbelt can make a difference of as much as 3.4 years in your RealAge? RealAge provides a system for valuing health choices. It gives you the information you need to make informed decisions about your health behaviors.
By taking the RealAge test, you can derive your own RealAge. The test, which can be accessed on-line or in the book RealAge: Are You as Young as You Can Be?, asks questions about more than 125 health-related factors. Then, from the answers you provide, you derive a RealAge that is customized to you. Better yet, you can develop an Age Reduction plan which will help you to slow the pace of aging. You choose which Age Reduction strategies you want to adopt, knowing just how much of difference each will make in your rate of aging.
By reading the RealAge book, you learn just why and how each behavior affects your rate of aging. Learn how preventing arterial aging and immune system aging are the two most important factors to help you stay young. Learn what you can do to prevent the premature onset of cardiovascular disease and what you can do to reduce your risk of cancer. The disease-paradigm so long used by the medical community makes little sense when talking about conditions that have to do with the breakdown of the body. Rather, these conditions are signs of aging. By learning how different behaviors affect your rate of aging, you have the information you need to begin slowing -- and even reversing -- the rate of aging.
Not In The Genes
Although it might sound like snake-oil-medicine, age reduction is not a fantasy. Despite beliefs that longevity is largely determined by the genes you inherited, this is not true. Approximately 30% of aging is genetically inherited. The other 70% is affected by environmental causes and behavioral choices. That means, you can largely shape the way in which you will age. The vast majority of us do not live as long as our genes would allow. By choosing to "live younger," you choose to live longer -- and healthier all along the way.
When you look at the rate of aging within any age cohort, you see enormous variation between individuals. Some people at 70 are sick and bedridden. Others are energetic, active, and full of life. In fact, there is so much variation within any age cohort that is virtually impossible to arrive at an "average" for aging. The people who live younger -- those who live at "the top of the curve" -- have behavioral choices in common: they exercise, they eat a diet low in saturated fats; they remain socially involved; and they do many of the 44 other Age Reduction strategies listed in the RealAge book.
In the book, we draw on more than 25,000 scientific studies, all of which have been peer-reviewed and appeared in the most prestigious medical and scientific journals. Rather than presenting new scientific data, RealAge provides a new way of interpreting already well-established and respected clinical research, making it both accessible and useful to a general audience. We present the most up- to-date findings in every field, and do so in a way that is readily accessible to everyone. That way we get the benefit of the best research that the scientific community has to offer, and the readers of the book get this research in a form that's easy to understand and easy to incorporate into their own lives.
How We Calculate the Numbers
Virtually all clinical studies include in their findings a calculation of "mortality risk." These are well-accepted and routinely used calculations of "risk factor probability." It is the standard way in which scientists extrapolate from empirical clinical studies to estimate the risk of any health behavior to the general public. These calculations estimate the 10-year mortality probabilities of people who adopt any one behavior. For example, a 50- year-old woman who smokes has a 10 year mortality risk of 0.88 -- that is, she has a 12% probability of dying in the next 10 years. Likewise, a 58-year-old woman who doesn't smoke has a mortality risk of 0.88 -- she also has a 12% probability of dying in the next 10 years. These calculations, although the standard in medical research, are largely impenetrable for someone not trained in statistics. A simpler, and more accessible way to say the same thing is to say that the smoker has the same RealAge as the non-smoker eight years her elder. That is, the 50- year-old smoker has a RealAge of 58. The smoker and the non-smoker have the same overall mortality risk. Just as economists are able to translate risk probabilities into "net present value," the RealAge calculations translate "mortality risk" into RealAge. This mortality risk calculation is the best measure we have of the underlying biological condition -- or rate of aging -- of a person's body.
Better yet, RealAge is able to combine multiple health risks into one overall number.
RealAge has only become possible with the advancement of computing technology. Previously, scientists were only able to gauge the risk of any single behavior, but were not able to estimate the mortality risk of multiple, interrelated health behaviors. For example, many smokers also do not exercise or eat healthy diets. Yet, it has been virtually impossible for researchers to untangle the interrelationship between these behaviors. RealAge is able to prorate the risk of different factors, combining the risk calculations of multiple health behaviors within a complex multivariable equation. Using the computing powers of new high-powered computers and the latest in multivariable statistical programming, the RealAge program is able to show how the multiple health choices that any one individual makes interrelate to affect that person's overall rate of aging. The result: one easy to understand number, a person's RealAge.
It's Easier Than You Think
Simple choices make a big difference in the rate of aging. Choosing to take the right vitamins in the right amounts, flossing your teeth, and wearing a seat belt every time you get in a car are simple, easy choices that can make your RealAge 6-8 years younger. Reducing your blood pressure, becoming physically fit, and losing weight are harder choices, but make a big difference in your rate of aging.
The pay off of these choices is not only in the future, the pay off is now. Choosing to live healthier now means living younger now. You actually slow the pace of aging. If you are 50, but have a RealAge of 42, you are living as young as the average 42 year old. You have the added energy and youth.
You can live younger. And it's not that hard to do.
Take the RealAge test and find out:
What's your RealAge?
Top 10 Ways to Reduce Your RealAge
About the Book
An Age Reduction Program
Until now, preventative medicine has not been very successful in motivating healthy choices. We all know that eating a diet low in saturated fats, taking vitamins and exercising are good for us, but most people don't adopt healthy habits until after a major health trauma has occurred. For example, fewer than 15% of Americans get adequate amounts of exercise, even though more than 90% of those surveyed say that exercise is important to health. That's why Michael Roizen, M.D. created RealAge -- a revolutionary, scientifically valid age reduction plan that not only explains WHY and HOW each behavior affects your health, but how many years of each activity can actually add or detract from your life!
Simple alternations in your daily activities can stave off the biological aging process that makes old age feel "old." RealAge lets you calculate your rate of aging by assigning a value to current health choices. By adopting the suggestions in Dr. Roizen's breakthrough book, you can slow the rate of aging and sometimes even reverse it -- by up to 26 years!
To find out your RealAge, Dr. Roizen and the RealAge team have designed a RealAge survey of more than 150 health related questions that can be taken through his book, RealAge: Are You As Young As You Can Be? A smaller version of the test is available online at http://www.RealAge.com The survey provides you with a starting point in assessing your RealAge and in developing an age reduction plan.
Through RealAge, Dr. Roizen illustrates that behavioral choices make a huge difference in the rate of aging. Simple tasks such as keeping your blood pressure in check, taking aspirin each day, and eating a low-fat diet can lower your RealAge significantly. By conscientiously lowering your RealAge, you are buying time to do more and be more, to enjoy the life you've always wanted. Simply put, RealAge, by Michael Roizen, M.D., can make you live younger -- for many years to come!
About the Author
Michael F. Roizen, M.D., the founder and author of RealAge, is a professor of medicine and chair of the top-ten Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Williams College, and an Alpha Omega Alpha graduate of the University of California Medical School in San Francisco. He performed his residency in internal medicine at Harvard's Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and complete a tour of duty in the Public Health Service at The National Institutes of Health in the lab of Irv Kopin and Nobel prize winner Julius Axelrod.
Dr. Roizen has just completed serving as Chair of a Food & Drug Administration Advisory Committee. He is also an editor or associate editor for six medical journals, and a former editor of the University of Chicago's Better Health Newsletter. He has published more than 120 peer reviewed scientific papers, 100 textbook chapters, 25 editorials, and two medical books.
Dr. Roizen continues to practice internal medicine and uses the RealAge measurement routinely to motivate patients to healthier behaviors. He has provided medical care to numerous CEOs, seven Nobel Prize winners and hundreds of other individuals. He has been featured in such media outlets as Newsweek, Time, The Los Angeles Post, The New York Post, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN and MSNBC in stories about age reduction and health promotion.