Do preservatives make you live longer?

Recently, someone joked that he will live longer because he eats lots of food with preservatives. After I stopped laughing, I thought “hmmmm…” Is it possible that preservatives could in fact “preserve” us and result in a longer life?


You can get more detail elsewhere, but preservatives work mainly (I think) by stopping the reactions that make foods breakdown, or by blocking the reactions that microbes need to breakdown the food. You wouldn’t want to “preserve” your cells otherwise they wouldn’t work.

Many preservatives act as anti-oxidants or free radical scavangers. While they MIGHT work when ingested vitamins C,E have a proven track record.

Preservatives work by STOPPING biological activity. Which, in the case of a human body, is generally deleterious…

You are probably confused with the fact that after we die, it takes longer for a human to decompose than it did 100 years ago- because of the preservatives in our food.* So we last longer, but we don’t live longer.

*[sup]Beakman said it, so it must be true[/sup]

Preservatives can be good for your health depending on what their exact functions are. As Squink had mentioned earlier, some preservatives are just anti-oxidants, which scoop up free radicals in your body and prevent them from doing damage to you. I have heard of suggestions that the average Japanese lives longer partly due to the higher levels of preservatives they have in their body as a result of loose food additive laws. One specific example is BHA (tert-butylhydroxyanisole), which is embedded on food packaging in the US while sprayed directly on food in Japan. Of course, I wouldn’t start eating any preservatives willy nilly if I were you though. You can purchase anti-oxidant pills at your local pharmacy if you really want them…