Mountains of research has documented the health problems suffered by Holocaust survivors but a new study has found that, despite this, people who survived the Nazi death camps live longer than those who were spared the atrocities.
Starvation, torture and the concentration camps dreadful living conditions left survivors suffering from a range of chronic illnesses long after they were liberated. However, the new research found that they live on average seven years longer than people who were not caught up in the Nazi regimes efforts to exterminate Europes Jews.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, compared 38,597 Holocaust survivors born in Europe and 34,931 Israelis all of whom were born between 1911 and 1945.
Both of the groups were insured by Maccabi Healthcare Services in Israel. The researchers used data collected from 1998 through 2017 and looked at heart disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and death.
They found that the survivors had a life expectancy of 84.8 years while the normal Israelis had a life expectancy of 77.7. This longevity is made even more remarkable by the fact that the survivors are more likely to suffer from hypertension, obesity, chronic kidney disease, cancer, and dementia.
The paper says it is conceivable that the “Darwinist ability to survive” among those who lived through the Holocaust was associated with favorable resilience despite the enduring health consequences they suffer.
It offers a range of reasons for this resilience including optimism, a personal moral compass, active coping skills, maintaining a supportive social network and looking after their physical well-being.
“It is very possible that because of their experience, they take a very different approach to life, they take better care of themselves,” Dr Gideon Koren, lead researcher, said to the Washington Times. “We call it health literacy — they know more, they ask more, probably some of it or much of it is their experience.”
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