Following a healthy lifestyle really can delay death

September 15th, 2010 - 3:10 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Sep 15 (ANI): Following a healthy lifestyle pattern - being normal weight, participating in regular physical activity, limiting exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke and consuming higher amounts of fruits and vegetables - can certainly delay a person’s death, say experts at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“The results show that overall lifestyle modification, to include a combination of these health-related lifestyle factors, is important in disease prevention,” said Wei Zheng, who led the research and is an Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and director of the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center.

A number of unhealthy lifestyle factors - for example, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, high amount of belly fat, and exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke - have been linked individually to chronic disease and premature death.

But little is known about the cumulative impact of these unhealthy factors beyond that of active smoking and alcohol consumption on mortality.

To address this question, the researchers analyzed data from 71,243 non-smoking, non-drinking Chinese women aged 40 to 70 years who have been participating in the ongoing population-based Shanghai Women’s Health Study.

Over the 9-year study period, 2,860 deaths were reported, including 1,351 cancer deaths and 775 deaths from cardiovascular disease.

To calculate “healthy lifestyle scores,” the investigators selected five well-studied healthy lifestyle factors relevant for this population: normal weight; lower waist-hip ratio; exercise participation; never exposed to spouse’s smoking; and higher fruit and vegetable daily intake. They found that a higher healthy lifestyle score was significantly associated with reduced risk of mortality from all causes, as well as from cardiovascular diseases and cancer, specifically. Women with 4 to 5 healthy lifestyle factors had 43 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality compared to women with a score of zero. The reduction in mortality associated with higher lifestyle scores was strongest for deaths due to cardiovascular disease.

“We already know that smoking and excessive alcohol drinking have significant adverse health effects. But for the many people who do not smoke or drink alcohol regularly, these other lifestyle factors may have major combined impact on mortality,” concludes Zheng.

The study appears in the journal PLoS Medicine. (ANI)

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