Unhealthy Behaviors Shorten Lifespan

Posted on May 11, 2010, 6 a.m. in Lifestyle Longevity

In that the individual parameters of physical inactivity, poor diet, smoking, and excess alcohol consumption have been shown to associate with increased risks of death, Elisabeth Kvaavik, from University of Oslo (Norway), and colleagues examined the individual and combined influence of these risk factors on total and cause-specific mortality.  Studying 4,886 residents of the United Kingdom, 18 years of age and older, the team calculated a health behavior score, which accounted for poor behaviors (physical inactivity, poor diet, smoking, and excess alcohol consumption)  for each subject, then followed them for an average of 20 years. The researchers found that all-cause mortality risk rose 85% for individuals with any one of the risky health behaviors.  Most importantly, those who engaged in all four activities raised their mortality risk by nearly 3.5 times, equating to prematurely ageing a person 12 years in terms of death risk.  The team urges that: “The combined effect of poor health behaviors on mortality was substantial, indicating that modest, but sustained, improvements to diet and lifestyle could have significant public health benefits.”

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Elisabeth Kvaavik; G. David Batty; Giske Ursin; Rachel Huxley; Catharine R. Gale.  “Influence of Individual and Combined Health Behaviors on Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Men and Women: The United Kingdom Health and Lifestyle Survey.”  Arch Intern Med, Apr 2010; 170: 711 - 718.

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