What Are The Causes Of Low Life Expectancy?

We’ve all likely heard the estimates on how long we should live based on some simple information like when we were born and where we live. But there are a lot of other factors that we can control that have a direct impact on how long we as an individual will actually live. 

First, it’s important to know the difference between life expectancy and longevity. Often times people get those two concepts confused.

Life expectancy is a prediction on how long a person is expected to live. The number is derived from a statistical measure of the average length a person could live. It takes into account the year you were born, your current age as well as other demographic factors like gender and location where you were born.

On the other hand, longevity is more about extending your life. This could be even past what the expected life expectancy is. It includes factors we can control such as our behaviors and habits that may impact our life. Longevity involves practicing healthy behaviors to extend your life.

What Causes Low Life Expectancy?

Life expectancy has been increasing around the world. This is due to improvements in sanitation, housing and education which caused a steady decline in early and mid-life mortality that had an impact on overall life expectancy. Most of those deaths could be attributed to infections, which decreased with the increased use of vaccinations and antibiotics to prevent and cure infections. 

There has also been a decline in late-life mortality thanks mostly to medical advancements involving treatment and care of ailments that the older population are afflicted with. Instead of people dying from ailments, treatments were created that resulted in people living longer.

The exception to this is the United States where life expectancy has slightly decreased to 78.6 years of age (1). There are a few causes contributing to the decrease in life expectancy including:

Income Disparity

Even though the United States spends more per capita GDP on healthcare than most other countries, we don’t receive the amount of benefits in return. There are also social factors like income and race. 

Suicide And Opioids

The rise in suicides and from the opioid epidemic are contributing factors to lowering life expectancy rates. The rate of opioid overdoses increased 45 percent between 2016 and 2017 alone. While suicide rates are also increasing and have been the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. since 2008.


Nearly 1 in 3 adults in the United States are considered obese. Obesity has been linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease plus other diseases that can lower a person’s life expectancy.

What Affects Life Expectancy?

There are certain factors that decrease life expectancy. While some of them are pretty obvious, others are ones that people may not expect.


Women tend to live longer than men. This could be because men tend to take part in riskier behavior that can lead to accidents.


Genetics play a role in 9 of the top 10 causes of death including heart disease, cancers, stroke, diabetes as well as chronic lower respiratory disease.

Prenatal And Childhood Conditions

Higher mortality, even at advanced ages, can be attributed to poor conditions in utero, birth and even early childhood.


Higher education is linked to improved longevity in a number of ways. It can be linked to higher socioeconomic status as well as decreased use of tobacco and lower levels of obesity.

Socioeconomic Status

A person’s socioeconomic status correlates to a person’s access to medical care and healthier lifestyle activities such as eating healthier, less tobacco use and being at a healthier weight.

Relationship Status

A person’s relationship status can affect their longevity. Married people tend to live longer, which could be attributed to feeling less lonely and their partner’s motivation to make healthier life choices and regular doctor visits.


A person’s lifestyle choices can impact how long a person lives. This includes healthy eating, exercise, tobacco use and drinking in moderation.

What Country Has The Lowest Life Expectancy?

The country with the lowest life expectancy in the world is the Central African Republic along with Lesotho and Chad. The reasons for low life expectancy in these developing countries can be attributed to low incomes and lack of access to healthcare.

What Are the Reasons For Low Life Expectancy?

One of the biggest reasons for low life expectancy in developing countries and elsewhere is lifestyle choices and obesity. While those can affect a person’s longevity, when it deals with a demographic group, it affects overall life expectancy there. 

Many of the major causes of death have to do with diseases like heart, renal, stroke and diabetes.The cause of those diseases are oftentimes brought on or exacerbated by lifestyle choices, especially the foods we eat and our level of physical activity.

Do Certain Foods and Vitamins Increase Life Expectancy?

There are foods you can eat to live longer. There isn’t a single cure-all superfood available, but a well-rounded diet full of healthy food choices can help increase how long a person may live. Researchers found these particular foods should be added to people’s diet for better health.


Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it can lower triglyceride levels, slow the growth of artery-causing fatty deposits and reduce blood pressure. It can also help the brain by reducing risk of cognitive decline.


High in vitamins and minerals, blueberries are also full of antioxidants that guard your cells against damage from free radicals reducing the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and brain-related diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.


Full of probiotics, or the good bacteria, that help support the immune system. It can also help protect against diseases

Green Tea

This tea can help with weight loss, regulate cholesterol levels and keep you mentally alert. Green tea may also be able to help prevent or slow the growth of certain cancers.


Especially cooked tomatoes are full of lycopene, an antioxidant that can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. 


There is also a mix of vitamins that can help a person live longer. Researchers consider these the top ones that help keep the cells in the body healthy:

  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin K
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium

Why Is Life Expectancy Lower in Less Developed Countries?

Research into how long people live has shown that life expectancy is lower in less developed countries for two distinct reasons. The first is socioeconomic development followed by access to public health measures like safe water, doctors and adequate nutrition.The lack of access is due to socioeconomic development. This looks at education, urbanization and industrialization. 

Supplements That Can Help

We looked at how certain vitamins can help our body’s cells, but there is also a supplement that helps cellular growth known as spermidine. While we cannot claim to cure or heal any illness, it’s important to know what spermidine is.

Spermidine is a polyamine. We are born with polyamines that assist the body with cellular growth. As we get older the polyamine levels in our body decreases along with cellular growth and renewal. 

Our body has a natural recycling process known as autophagy in which old, damaged cell components are recycled by the body to make way for newer and healthier cells. Healthier cells increase longevity and spermidine is a supplement that assists the body’s autophagy process and cellular growth. 


  • Don Moxley - Director of Applied Science

    Don Moxley is the Director of Applied Science at Longevity Labs. Moxley draws upon his career as an athlete, a sports scientist, and an instructor to lead and educate on the science of autophagy and longevity.