Live High To Live Long

A new study suggests that people who reside below the 8th floor of an apartment are 22 percent more likely to die early than those who live higher above.

Strange as it may sound, researchers from the University of Bern, Switzerland, found out that people living in the lower floors of multi-storey building were at a 40 percent greater risk of falling prey to lung diseases as compared to those living on the upper floors. Similarly, for heart disease, the risk was a huge 35 percent greater than those living at least above the eighth floor of the building, and the risk of lung cancer rose to a steep 22 percent as the floors got down.

The only health risk posed by living on the higher floors of a multi-storey building was the risk of suicide, the researchers found. People living in the ground floors were much less likely to commit suicide by jumping off their balconies or window - for obvious reasons.

This study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology, took into account more than 1.5 million people residing in buildings having at least 4 floors.

"The reputation of high-rise housing as unpleasant and unhealthy habitats that isolate people from their social environment and increase crime continues to the present,' the researchers said in a report.

"One reason may be that high-rise residents are more likely to use the stairs, which could keep them fit and protect against disease.

"But there has been a revival in recent years and unlike the tower blocks of the sixties and seventies, these are often glitzy buildings in prime locations."

The increased risk of suffering from heart disease and lung cancer in people living on the lower floors may be due to the increasing air and noise pollution, the researchers suggest. Also, since high-rise residents are more likely to use the stairs, they tend to remain more fit and healthy, thereby preventing heart disease, as opposed to those living in the lower floors.

This study in particular, however, does not apply to all the regions of the world, or even US, for that matter.

"Clearly, our results are not applicable to tower blocks in deprived areas of Glasgow, where high-rise housing tends to be in poor condition," the researchers say.

Live high to live long? Well, it seems to work in Switzerland, at least.

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