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Five habits to live longer

Five habits to live longer

Maintaining a healthy diet and body weight, exercising regularly, avoiding smoking, and drinking in moderation can prolong life expectancy by an average 11.5 years for men and 14 years for women, says the study. At age 50, the men who adhered to these five healthy practices saw their life expectancy increase by 12.2.

This was the conclusion of the first study to thoroughly analyze the relationship between "low-risk lifestyle factors" and life expectancy in the United States.

Despite being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, the average American has a shorter life expectancy compared to other wealthy countries, such as Japan, Canada, and Norway. "But the surprising thing was how huge the effect was", said Meir Stampfer, a co-author on the study and professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

They chose to focus on "smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, poor diet, and obesity", because an analysis of 15 studies covering more than half a million people in 17 nations had concluded that these "unhealthy lifestyle factors" could account for around 60 percent of premature deaths.

The average life expectancy for Americans is 79 years - lower when compared to residents of nearly all other high-income countries. Sticking to all five of those healthy habits was associated with 12.2 years of longer life for men and 14 years of longer life expectancy for women, according to the researchers. The new study aimed to quantify how much healthy lifestyle factors might be able to boost longevity in the U.S.

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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.

Researchers also found that American women and men who maintained the healthiest lifestyles were 82 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 65 percent less likely to die from cancer when compared with those with the least healthy lifestyles over the course of the roughly 30-year study period.

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

Only eight percent of Americans are now following the healthy habits underlined in the study, research co-author Dr. Meir Stampfer, a professor of medicine at Harvard, told CNN. Only 8% of the general population followed all five healthy habits.

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