The Amish are a religious group that live in rural communities across the United States and Canada. They are known for their simple lifestyle, rejection of modern technology, and adherence to a strict set of rules and traditions. But what is the main cause of death for the Amish? Is it related to their lifestyle, their genetics, or something else? In this article, we will explore this question and reveal some surprising facts about the mortality patterns of the Amish.
Lifestyle Factors and Mortality
One might assume that the Amish have a lower risk of death than the general population, due to their healthy habits and avoidance of harmful substances. The Amish do not smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs. They also exercise regularly, eat fresh and organic food, and have strong social and family ties. These factors are known to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
However, the Amish also face some unique challenges and hazards that may increase their mortality risk. For example, the Amish use horses for transportation and farm work, which exposes them to more accidents and injuries. They also have limited access to health care, preventive medicine, and immunization, due to their religious beliefs and geographic isolation. They may also suffer from infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, that can spread rapidly in their close-knit communities.
According to a study by Hamman et al. (1981)1, the Amish mortality patterns were not systematically higher or lower than those of the non-Amish, but differed by age, sex, and cause. Amish males had slightly higher mortality rates as children and significantly lower mortality rates over the age of 40, due to lower rates of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Amish females had lower mortality rates from age 10 to 39, not different from 40 to 69, and higher over age 69. The authors suggested that lifestyle may be the primary determinant of the overall mortality patterns in the Amish.
Genetic Factors and Mortality
Another factor that may influence the mortality of the Amish is their genetic makeup. The Amish are a reproductively isolated and highly inbred population, which means they have a higher chance of inheriting rare genetic disorders and diseases. Some of these disorders are fatal or debilitating, such as Ellis-van Creveld syndrome, maple syrup urine disease, and glutaric aciduria type 1. The Amish also have a higher prevalence of certain cancers, such as breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer, that may be linked to genetic mutations.
However, the Amish also have some genetic advantages that may protect them from certain diseases and increase their lifespan. For example, the Amish have a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and asthma, which may be related to their genetic variants that affect metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammation. The Amish also have a higher frequency of a gene called SERPINE1, which is associated with longevity and reduced aging. found that the Amish have experienced five peaks in death rates, two prior to COVID and three during the COVID pandemic. The author speculated that the Amish may have a genetic resistance to COVID-19, due to their SERPINE1 gene or other factors.
The main cause of death for the Amish is not a simple or straightforward answer. It depends on many factors, such as lifestyle, genetics, age, sex, and cause. The Amish have both advantages and disadvantages that affect their mortality risk, compared to the general population. The Amish may have lower rates of some diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases, but higher rates of others, such as genetic disorders and infectious diseases. The Amish may also have a longer lifespan, due to their healthy habits and genetic variants, but they may also face more challenges and hazards, due to their religious and cultural practices. The Amish mortality patterns are complex and fascinating, and they deserve more attention and research.