This archived forum used to be called 'Peatarian' (in reference to Ray Peat).

Are high altitude locations good for health?

Researchers agree with Peat:

"We've known since the 1920s (that) if you go to really high altitudes you will lose weight," says Robert Roach, director of the Altitude Research Center in Aurora, Colo., which studies how hypoxia, a lack of oxygen, affects health and performance."

"If you look at people who live at high altitude around the world, incidents of most types of heart disease and stroke are much less," Roach says."

"People who live at very high altitudes live significantly longer; they have a lower incidence of cancer (Weinberg, et al., 1987) and heart disease (Mortimer, et al., 1977), and other degenerative conditions, than people who live near sea level. As I have written earlier, I think the lower energy transfer from cosmic radiation is likely to be a factor in their longevity, but several kinds of evidence indicate that it is the lower oxygen pressure itself that makes the biggest contribution to their longevity."

I've lived in altitude locations for 25 years total and continuously the last 15.  Many of the people I've known living in these areas have cancer, cataracts, elevated cholesterol, etc.  Recently, over the fall, I had a DVT scare, which means I might have heart disease.  I'm not overweight, am active, and have eaten moderately well most of my life.

Actually, I've always thought most people in these mountain areas look worn out, fatigued, and "rusty"-- old, not like they benefited from the fresh, oxygen-free air.  I assumed for years it was because of UV damage, but now think it's because elevation might be in some way harmful.  Obesity is also pretty common.

Just look at some of the famous people who live in these areas.  Val Kilmer, who lives in Santa Fe, which is 7,000 ft., is old and overweight:

Linda McCartney died of cancer while living in Tucson (2,000+ ft).  Patrick Swayze, who lived in Las Vegas, NM, also died of cancer.

Shirley Maclaine, who lives in Santa Fe, is soooo healthy from a lack of oxygen and cosmic radiation:

Actually, she sounds and looks like she is.
asked Apr 3, 2015 by raintree
edited Apr 4, 2015 by raintree

1 Answer

Peat says this:

Degenerative diseases, especially cancer, heart disease, and brain diseases, are less prevalent in populations that live at a high altitude. When oxygen pressure is low, the lungs lose carbon dioxide more slowly, and so the amount of carbon dioxide retained in the body is greater. If the basic problem in hypothyroidism is the deficient production of carbon dioxide causing excessive loss of salt and retention of water, resulting in hypo-osmotic body fluids, then we would expect people at high altitude to have better retention of salt, more loss of water, and more hypertonic body fluids. That has been observed in many studies. The increased rate of metabolism at altitude would be consistent with the relatively active "catabolism" of the slightly hyperosmotic condition.

{End quote]

This is relative, of course. You can still degenerate and die at high altitude, but less so, or more slowly than you would at a lower altitude.
answered Apr 3, 2015 by visionofstrength
I'm not sure I agree.  Dying slowly is still dying.  The catabolism may account for what to me seems like an "pro-aged" look that most people in the areas I've lived in have.
Ray Peat doesn't live at an altitude.
Yes, it's still dying, but more slowly.

Peat describes life in or around Mexico City, which I think is 3,000 meters or so. He first realized some tenets of his biophysics when he experienced the clarity of mind at that altitude.

Keep in mind that altitude in and of itself is not a cure all, and can make intractable hypothyroidism worse. As Peat says:

If hypothyroid people, with increased adrenalin and lactate, are hyperventilating even at rest and at sea level, when they go to a high altitude where less oxygen is available, and their absorption of oxygen is impaired by lactic acidemia, their “oxygen debt,” conceived as circulating lactic acid, is easily increased, intensifying their already excessive “ventilatory drive,” and in proportion to the lactic acid oxygen debt, oxygen absorption is further inhibited.

The lactic acid has to be disposed of, but their ability to extract oxygen is reduced. The poor oxygenation, and the increased lactic acid and free fatty acids cause blood vessels to become leaky, producing edema in the lungs and brain. This is very similar to the “multiple organ failure” that occurs in inflammatory conditions, bacteremia, congestive heart failure, cancer, and trauma.
That could be a reasonable explanation.  Jack Kruse says altitude bends light or time causing it to speed up.  It does actually seem like that based on what I've experienced.  It's destabilizing, and not particularly therapeutic.