COMMENTARY

What Do You Think About Retirement?

Disclosures

December 07, 2018

Hello and welcome. I'm Dr George Lundberg and this is At Large at Medscape.

In October, while enjoying one of my wife's [tour groups], I found myself at the Temple of Apollo near Corinth on the Grecian Peloponnesian peninsula. I accidentally became engaged in a serious exchange with Apollo's son Aesculapius, widely respected for his sensitivity. He answered my query forthwith, but I felt I needed a confirmatory reply with greater specificity, so we moved on to climb the rocky assent of Delphi up to Omphalos, where we encountered the Oracle.

She pondered my question, and a sudden thunderbolt from Zeus ordered me to immediately resign my principal employment so I could concentrate on finding the perfect wave, the tallest redwood, and maybe even get to know my great-granddaughters. I immediately gave 14 days' notice and now can easily handle my other six part-time positions, and enjoy more of those other kinds of activities. Not full "retirement," but closer.

Do you plan to retire or just keep working? What is the healthiest thing to do?

In a Medscape Medical Minute (MMM) in the Medscape Journal of Medicine in 2008, I wrote:

Three Greek investigators studied more than 16,000 men and women who were either gainfully employed or already retired between 1994 and 1999 and had not been diagnosed with stroke, coronary artery heart disease, cancer, or diabetes mellitus. Using Cox regression models and controlling for confounders, they analyzed survival status as of 2006. Retirees had a 51% increase in all-cause mortality, mostly from cardiovascular disease. A 5-year increase in age at retirement was associated with a 10% decrease in mortality. This study, reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2008,[1] suggests that retirement may be a risk factor for both all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. If you like your work and you like being alive, keep working.

Back in 2008, this MMM article stimulated 44 written comments. You might enjoy reading them and comparing notes.

A 2016 article[2] in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health attempted to factor in the issue of selection bias by health status at retirement, but still reported findings similar to the Greek work.

Have you seen any more recently published research reports that better elucidate this issue? What are your thoughts? What are your plans?

That's my opinion. I'm Dr George Lundberg, at large at Medscape.

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