May 24, 2018

Five healthy habits to live by

01 May 2018, 04:23 | Darrell Baldwin

The five golden rules that can extend a woman's life by 14 years: Not smoking and a healthy diet are among the lifestyle steps suggested by experts

The five habits that can add more than a decade to your life

The five things are: eating a healthy diet, not smoking, not drinking too much alcohol, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy body weight - the last one typically comes as a natural outcome of the others.

The American healthcare system focuses mostly on drug discovery and disease management, but the study's authors believe an increased emphasis on disease prevention could help life expectancy trends.

A new study by Harvard researchers suggests that five lifestyle habits may be key to extending life expectancy by more than 10 years.

"Adopting a healthy lifestyle could substantially reduce premature mortality and prolong life expectancy in U.S. adults".

In other words, women gained an average life expectancy of 14 years, and men gained 12 years.

Each of the five habits contributed to life expectancy gains, with a combination of all five associated with the largest gains, say the researchers, whose findings were published on Monday in the medical journal Circulation.

To prove that the study is valid, researchers were searching for the connection between the five life habits and premature death after acquiring data from the national Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. For men, it meant an additional 37.6 years, compared to 25.5 years.

Compared to adults without any of these low-risk factors, the average 50-year old woman who follows all five could live about 14 years longer (to age 93). The multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios for mortality in adults with 5 compared with zero low-risk factors were 0.26 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.22-0.31) for all-cause mortality, 0.35 (95% CI, 0.27-0.45) for cancer mortality, and 0.18 (95% CI, 0.12-0.26) for cardiovascular disease mortality.

Researchers studied 34 years of data from nearly 79,000 women and 27 years of data from about 44,000 men who participated in the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

Senior study author Frank B. Hu - who is a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School - and colleagues set out to find some answers by investigating the effect of modifiable health factors.

Life expectancy at the time of birth in the US rose from 63 years in 1940 to 79 years in 2014.

Given that the habits of a healthy lifestyle are well known, the mystery is why we are so bad at adopting them, said Stampfer. What are these five healthy habits?

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