Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Over-indulging can take hours off your life

Date:
December 17, 2012
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
It may be the season to eat, drink and be merry, but each day of over-indulging can take several hours off your life, according to a new article.

It may be the season to eat, drink and be merry, but each day of over-indulging can take several hours off your life, according to a Christmas article published on the British Medical Journal website.

Activities like smoking, having a couple of drinks, eating red meat and watching television anytime of year can each knock at least 30 minutes off your life expectancy for every day you indulge. In contrast, each day of sticking to just one alcoholic drink, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, and exercising can be expected to add up to two hours to your life.

Professor David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at the University of Cambridge, wanted to find a simple way of communicating the impact of our behaviours on expected length of life.

He suggests using the concept of ageing faster or slower, by expressing the daily effect of lifestyle habits as "microlives" (half hours of life expectancy). A half hour of adult life expectancy can be termed a microlife as it is loosely equivalent to one millionth of life after age 35, he explains.

Using data from population studies he calculates that, averaged over a lifetime habit, a microlife can be "lost" from smoking two cigarettes, being 5 kg overweight, having a second or third alcoholic drink of the day, watching two hours of television, or eating a burger.

On the other hand, microlives can be "gained" by sticking to just one alcoholic drink a day, eating fresh fruit and vegetables, exercising, and taking statins.

Demographic factors can also be expressed in microlives. For example, being female rather than male (a gain of 4 microlives a day), being Swedish rather than Russian (a gain of 21 a day for men), and living in 2010 rather than 1910 (a gain of 15 a day).

This form of communication allows a general, non-academic audience to make rough, but fair comparisons between the sizes of chronic risks, and is based on a metaphor of "speed of ageing," which has been effective in encouraging cessation of smoking, says Professor Spiegelhalter. "So each day of smoking 20 cigarettes (10 microlives) is as if you are rushing towards your death at 29 hours rather than 24."

He points to several limitations and stresses that these assessments are very approximate and based on numerous assumptions. However, he says they "bring long term effects into the present and help counter temporal discounting, in which future events are considered of diminishing importance."

In spite of the limitations, he concludes that "a reasonable idea of the comparative absolute risks associated with chronic exposures can be vividly communicated in terms of the speed at which one is living one's life."

He adds: "Of course, evaluation studies would be needed to quantify any effect on behaviour, but one does not need a study to conclude that people do not generally like the idea of getting older faster."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. D. Spiegelhalter. Using speed of ageing and "microlives" to communicate the effects of lifetime habits and environment. BMJ, 2012; 345 (dec14 14): e8223 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.e8223

Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Over-indulging can take hours off your life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217190639.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2012, December 17). Over-indulging can take hours off your life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217190639.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Over-indulging can take hours off your life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217190639.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Calling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a potential threat to global security, President Barack Obama is ordering 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the stricken region amid worries that the outbreak is spiraling out of control. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Nearly $1.0 billion dollars is needed to fight the Ebola outbreak raging in west Africa, the United Nations say, warning that 20,000 could be infected by year end. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is ordering U.S. military personnel to West Africa to deal with the Ebola outbreak, which is he calls a potential threat to global security. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins