Healthy Behaviors Can Give You 14 Extra Years

A new study published on the January 8, 2008 online journal, the PLoS Medicine, and reported on the same day on Medical News Today, showed that following a healthy lifestyle can lead to up to 14 years of additional life. The study conducted at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge, United Kingdom, looked at factors that created a relationship between lifestyle and mortality.

This study followed over 20,000 participants and looked at four key lifestyle factors. One point was given to participants for each of the following factors, non-smoker, physical activity, moderate alcohol intake, and eating the equivalent of five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. In this study, physical was defined as not having a sedentary job, or engaging in exercise. Moderate alcohol consumption was defined as having between 1 and 14 beers or drinks per week. The amount of fruit and vegetable intake was determined to be adequate by testing the participant's vitamin C content in their blood. Participants were given a point for each of the above lifestyle factors so that a maximum score of 4 would represent the most positive lifestyle within the parameters of the study.

The men and women in the study were between 45 and 79 and were examined and completed lifestyle questionnaires between 1993 and 1997. None of the participants in the study had cancer, heart disease or circulation disorders at the start of the study. The death of any of the participants was recorded until the year 2006 for the purposes of this study.

The results of the study showed that people with a score of 4 significantly increased their survival rate. Having a score of four compared to zero in health behaviors was the equivalent to being 14 years younger in chronological age. People who scored a 2 in the study were twice as likely to die during the study as were those with a score of 4, while those with a 0 score were four times more likely to die during the study period.

The Medical News Today article notes that this study gives consumers four simple and easy lifestyle factors to focus on that can have a profound effect on longevity. They sum up the article by saying, "The study is intriguing and helps to pin down in a user friendly and informative way some simple changes that middle aged and older people can make with a reasonable expectation of making a significant impact on their lifespan. Even Homer Simpson could do this!"