Speaking from experience with self-hatred, I notice real differences in my ability to do things when I can shut it off. This is especially relevent since a lot of what I tend to attack myself about is incompetence.
This is one of those "everything they've been telling you is wrong" articles. It looks as though genes might have rather little to do with lifespan. A big study of identical twins found an average ten-year difference in lifespan, and no one knows why. The difference isn't just people who died young of accidents screwing up the stats.
One hypothesis which isn't mentioned is that gene expression can get turned on or off, so that people with the same genes don't necessarily get the same effects from them.
This one is about how much health and longevity have improved in the past century and a half. It looks as though a lot of the change is better prevention of disease (disease can have long-term debilitating effects, even cancer, which was a surprise) rather than lifestyle. It backs up something I'd noticed--people don't age as fast as they used to--the article says that the diseases of aging now kick in about ten years later.
Here's a topic page with all three articles. It might be worth checking on now and then.
This is a permanent link generator for NYTimes articles.
Link and some good comments found at Body Impolitic.