How does our lifestyle affect our life expectancy?
Most people hope to live as long as possible. Researchers have now found that a healthy lifestyle in middle age can prolong life expectancy by more than a decade. Such a lifestyle, for example, reduces the risk of death from cancer or heart disease.
The scientists from the internationally recognized Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston found in their current investigation that a healthy lifestyle in middle age leads to a significant increase in life expectancy. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Circulation".
These five habits affect life expectancy
The researchers focused on five lifestyle habits that are generally associated with lower risk of a variety of chronic medical problems. This included giving up tobacco, restricting alcohol consumption, adequate exercise, healthy eating and maintaining a normal body weight, the experts explain.
How did a healthy lifestyle affect you?
During a follow-up period of three decades, it was observed that participants who observed all five habits were generally 74 percent less likely to die prematurely. In addition, such participants died 82 percent less of heart diseases and 65 percent less likely of cancer, the doctors say. At age 50, women who followed all five of these healthy habits had a 14-year longer life expectancy compared to women who did not follow any of these habits. For men aged 50 who followed the five important points, life expectancy was twelve years higher compared to men who disregarded these habits.
So far, there have been few studies on the subject
Although it is already known that healthy lifestyle habits can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer, few studies have quantified the benefits of these lifestyle factors on extending life expectancy, says study author Dr. Frank Hu from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in a press release. Although the United States is one of the most prosperous countries in the world, Americans have a shorter life expectancy than people in many other high-income countries, which is partly due to higher rates of many preventable diseases, the experts say.
The study had more than 120,000 participants
The study included nearly 79,000 nurses and more than 44,000 male health professionals. Half of the women were medically monitored for at least 34 years and half of the men for at least 27 years. A total of 42,167 people died during this period. Of these, 13,953 subjects died of cancer and a further 10,689 participants died of cardiovascular diseases, the researchers explain.
Avoiding smoking is a top priority
Each of the five individual healthy habits was examined individually in the study. It was found that everyone was associated with a lower risk of premature death. However, the impact was greatest when participants followed all five health habits. The study was not a controlled experiment to show whether and how each of these lifestyle habits could directly contribute to longevity or which individual habits could have the greatest effect, the scientists explain. However, there is no question that avoiding smoking is a top priority, adds Dr. Hu added.
Life expectancy has been significantly extended
Not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight are crucial for the prevention of cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases, the study author explains. Eating properly and exercising regularly is not only important for maintaining a healthy weight, but also contributes to a lower risk of chronic diseases. Although it is already known that a healthy lifestyle can increase life expectancy and reduce the risk of chronic diseases, the study offers new evidence of how strongly life expectancy is determined by lifestyle.
Preventive strategies are very important
Preventive strategies still play a very important role in this age of modern medicine and should be a focus for patients and doctors. Adopting all five healthy lifestyle habits is certainly not an easy task for most adults, but a rather big challenge. But the results of the study show that adopting just one or two of these habits will increase life expectancy. (as)