I was thinking about the argument that lean muscle mass in older age determines life-expectancy. This is a widely embraced view and is driving behaviour. It has almost achieved the status of dogma.
The belief comes from studies that show that the more lean muscle mass that an older person has, the longer they are expected to live. So, lean muscle mass is associated with a longer life. Is this all there is to the story? Well, not in my opinion, otherwise I would not be writing this ….
Association is not causation. If ‘A’ and ‘B’ are often seen together, that doesn’t mean that ‘A’ causes ‘B’. This sort of thinking has gotten us into so many bad situations throughout history. Just take the cholesterol theory of heart disease as an example.
An often used example of this sort of thinking – ‘Scientists’ have discovered that fire-engines always seem to be present at building fires. They are working on ways of controlling the number of fire engines to reduce the incidence and impact of fires on the community. So obviously stupid – but the same sort of thinking.
So back to the lean muscle mass theory.
- Is it that lean muscle mass improves your health and thus makes you live longer?
- Is it that, if you are healthy, then you will likely have more lean muscle mass?
- Is it that, if you are a health-conscious person, then you will have more lean muscle mass?
- Should you take out a gym membership to build lean muscle mass?
Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in having sufficient lean muscle mass to function effectively, however, I am of the belief that maintaining metabolic health will lead to more active older adults that will have more lean muscle mass. Don’t focus on building the muscle mass – focus on building the metabolic foundations that will result in that muscle mass.
Oh, and just to finish off on a high note, I have recently seen TV adverts that suggest that hearing aids stave off dementia. Come in and buy our hearing aid to prevent Alzheimer’s. This is based on the association of hearing loss with Alzheimer’s disease. Sadly, many people will believe this and get that hearing aid. I struggle to not get angry sometimes.
Think before you act – and start out being sceptical of everything that you hear – especially so if everyone is repeating the same idea.