Healthy, smoke-free lifestyle tied to at least an extra decade of life

( Reuters Health)- Adults who follow a healthy lifestyle in middle age may extend their lifespan by more than a decade and have a lower hazard of dying from cancer or heart disease, a U.S. survey suggests.

Researchers focused on five habits long linked to a lower risk of developing or dying from variety of chronic medical problems: not smoking, limiting alcohol, exercising, eating well, and preserving a healthy weight.

During more than three decades of follow-up, people who followed all five of these habits were 74 percent less likely to die from all causes, 82 percentage less likely to die from heart disease and 65 percent less likely to die from cancer.

At age 50, women who followed all five of these healthy habits had a life expectancy 14 years longer than women who adopted none of these habits, such studies found.

And 50 -year-old men who had been following all five healthy habits could expect to live 12 years longer than men who hadnat followed any of them.

aAlthough we already know that healthy lifestyle habits can reduce risk of chronic illness such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, few surveys have quantified the benefits of these lifestyle factors on prolonging life expectancy, a said senior examine writer Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

Even though the U.S. is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, Americans have a shorter life expectancy than people in many other high-income countries due in part to higher rates of many preventable cancers, researchers note in Circulation.

The study involved nearly 79,000 female nurses, with data collection from the very beginning of 1976, and more than 44,000 male health professionals, starting in 1986. Half of the women were followed for at least 34 years and half of the men for at least 27 years.

Altogether, 42,167 people succumbed, including 13,953 who died from cancer and another 10,689 from cardiovascular cancer .

Examined separately, each of the five individual healthy habits was associated with a lower risk of premature death, but the effect was biggest for people who adopted all five health habits, such studies found.

The study wasnat a controlled experimentation designed to prove whether or how each of these lifestyle habits might directly contribute to longevity, or assess which individual habits might attain the biggest impact.

Nevertheless, one habit looms large.

aThere is no question that avoidance of smoking is a top priority, a Hu suggested by email.

aAvoidance of smoking and preserving a healthy weight are critical for prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic illness, a Hu added. aEating right and exerting regularly are not only important for preserving a healthy weight, but also contribute to a lower danger of chronic disease, and not drinking too much is key to reducing risk of cancer and accidental injuries and deaths.a

While itas already well known that healthy lifestyle choices can increase life expectancy and lower the risk of chronic disease, the study offers fresh evidence of exactly how many extra years people can add to their lives, told Keith Diaz, a researcher at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City who wasnat involved in the study.

aThis is quite a substantive amount of years and compelling evidence that, in the era of modern medication, preventive strategies still greatly matter and should still be a focus of patients and their doctors, a Diaz suggested by email.

While the study doesnat inevitably indicate one lifestyle habit is better than another, it does show that following some good habits is better than adopting none at all, Diaz added.

aCertainly adopting all five healthy lifestyle habits is no small accomplishment and quite a challenge for most adults, a Diaz added. aBut what this study demonstrates is that even adopting merely one to two of these habits will increase oneas life expectancy.a

SOURCE: 2HGdijK Circulation, online April 30, 2018.

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