MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

The notion that ‘chiropractic adds years to your life’ is often touted, particularly of course by chiropractors (in case you doubt it, please do a quick google search). It is logical to assume that chiropractors themselves are the best informed about what they perceive as the health benefits of chiropractic care. Chiropractors would therefore be most likely to receive some level of this ‘life-prolonging’ chiropractic care on a long-term basis. If that is so, then chiropractors themselves should demonstrate longer life spans than the general population.

Sounds logical?

Perhaps, but is the theory supported by evidence?

Back in 2004, a chiropractor, Lon Morgan,  courageously tried to test the theory and published an interesting paper about it.

He used two separate data sources to examine the mortality rates of chiropractors. One source used obituary notices from past issues of Dynamic Chiropractic from 1990 to mid-2003. The second source used biographies from Who Was Who in Chiropractic – A Necrology covering a ten year period from 1969-1979. The two sources yielded a mean age at death for chiropractors of 73.4 and 74.2 years respectively. The mean ages at death of chiropractors is below the national average of 76.9 years; it also is below the average age at death of their medical doctor counterparts which, at the time, was 81.5.

So, one might be tempted to conclude that ‘chiropractic substracts years from your life’. I know, this would be not very scientific – but it would probably be more evidence-based than the marketing gimmick of so many chiropractors trying to promote their trade by saying: ‘chiropractic adds years to your life’!

In any case, Morgan, the author of the paper, concluded that this paper assumes chiropractors should, more than any other group, be able to demonstrate the health and longevity benefits of chiropractic care. The chiropractic mortality data presented in this study, while limited, do not support the notion that chiropractic care “Adds Years to Life …”, and it fact shows male chiropractors have shorter life spans than their medical doctor counterparts and even the general male population. Further study is recommended to discover what factors might contribute to lowered chiropractic longevity.

Another beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact!

9 Responses to ‘Chiropractic Substracts Years From Your Life’ (?$?$?)

  • Chiropractors seem to have a slightly lower life span than average? Oh dear … I can almost hear the crankosphere dreaming up some sort of conspiracy whereby Evil Big Pharma somehow kills chiropractors in a surreptitious way…

  • Who says Chiro’s get adjusted regularly. The study should have been on their patients. No logical correlation

    • I think the authors discussed and considered these ideas.
      chiros are convinced SMT id promoting health, so statistically, they are more likely to use it for themselves than non-chiros.
      had they analysed patient data, they would not be sure of long-term adherence.
      the authors tried to apply the best statistical approach they could think of.

    • The results make perfect sense. Someone who is capable of believing that chiropractic is medically beneficial may opt to use it or other pseudo-medical treatments rather than receive true medical treatments. Some folk may mix and match true and pseudo-medical treatments and die later than true believers but sooner than doctors and those who eschew nonsense treatments and receive proper medical treatment promptly.

    • and btw: if they had used patients, the result might have even been worse – think of chiropractors’ antivax advice given to their patients and the effect this has on longevity, for instance.

  • And an even more interesting study might be to analyze a typical chiroquackers’ pain and disability levels vs. the general public. My guess; their entrepreneurial-theatrics-masquerading-as-healthcare improve neither pain, disability (nor longevity) one wit better than luck. Chiroquackers and their gullible throngs would be further ahead getting a massager, an exercise band and a copy of Dianetics. Voila’, real healthcare.

    • Ha, Michael, Chiroquacks are targetted by Scientology$ in the USA, particularly in Florida it seems. So your quip about Dianetics was close to the mark.

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