Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Healthy lifestyle adds years to life

Date:
July 8, 2014
Source:
University of Zurich
Summary:
Live longer thanks to fruit, an active lifestyle, limited alcohol and no cigarettes. This is the conclusion of a study by public health physicians who documented for the first time the impact of behavioral factors on life expectancy in numbers. The results are intended to be integrated into prevention and health counseling in primary care.

Live longer thanks to fruit, an active lifestyle, limited alcohol and no cigarettes. This is the conclusion of a study by public health physicians at the University of Zurich who documented for the first time the impact of behavioural factors on life expectancy in numbers. The results are to be taken over into prevention and health counselling in primary care.

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disorders -- the incidence of these non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is constantly rising in industrialised countries. The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) is, therefore, in the process of developing a national prevention strategy with a view to improving the population's health competence and encouraging healthier behaviour. Attention is focusing, amongst other things, on the main risk factors for these diseases which are linked to personal behaviour -- i.e. tobacco smoking, an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful alcohol consumption.

Against this backdrop Private Docent Brian Martin and his colleagues from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM) at the University of Zurich have examined the effects of these four factors -- both individual and combined -- on life expectancy. For the first time the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle can be depicted in numbers. An individual who smokes, drinks a lot, is physically inactive and has an unhealthy diet has 2.5 fold higher mortality risk in epidemiological terms than an individual who looks after his health. Or to put it positively: "A healthy lifestyle can help you stay ten years' younger," comments the lead author Eva Martin-Diener.

Analysis of data from the Swiss Cohort

For the study the researchers used data from the Swiss National Cohort (SNC). The Zurich public health physicians focussed on CVDs and cancer as they account for the most deaths in Switzerland. The researchers succeeded in correlating data on tobacco consumption, fruit consumption, physical activity and alcohol consumption from 16,721 participants aged between 16 and 90 from 1977 to 1993 with the corresponding deaths up to 2008. The impact of the four forms of behaviour was still visible when biological risk factors like weight and blood pressure were taken into account as well.

"The effect of each individual factor on life expectancy is relatively high," states Eva Martin-Diener. But smoking seems to be the most harmful. Compared with a group of non-smokers, smokers have a 57 percent higher risk of dying prematurely. The impact of an unhealthy diet, not enough sport and alcohol abuse results in an elevated mortality risk of around 15 percent for each factor. "We were very surprised by the 2.5 fold higher risk when all four risk factors are combined," explains Brian Martin. Hence, the probability of a 75-year-old man with all risk factors surviving the next ten years is, for instance, 35 percent, without risk factors 67 percent -- for a woman 47 and 74 percent respectively.

Effects only appear in later life

According to Martin an unhealthy lifestyle has above all a long-lasting impact. Whereas high wine consumption, cigarettes, an unhealthy diet and physical inactivity scarcely had any effect on mortality amongst the 45 to 55-year-olds, it does have a visible effect on 65 to 75-year-olds. The probability of a 75-year-old man with none of the four risk factors surviving the next ten years is 67 percent, exactly the same as the risk for a smoker who is ten years younger, doesn't exercise, eats unhealthily and drinks a lot.

The social and public health physicians depict the dependency of life expectancy and the four risk behaviours for the age groups in what are known as survival charts. The impact of individual risk factors and their combined effect on mortality are visible at a glance. "In future, doctors will be able to refer to the easily comprehensible charts when giving health counselling to their patients in primary care," comments Eva Martin-Diener with confidence. "Furthermore, they may also be important for the political discussions of prevention strategies for NCDs."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Zurich. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eva Martin-Diener, Julia Meyer, Julia Braun, Silvan Tarnutzer, David Faeh, Sabine Rohrmann, Brian W. Martin. The combined effect on survival of four main behavioural risk factors for non-communicable diseases. Preventive Medicine, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.05.023

Cite This Page:

University of Zurich. "Healthy lifestyle adds years to life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140708092131.htm>.
University of Zurich. (2014, July 8). Healthy lifestyle adds years to life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140708092131.htm
University of Zurich. "Healthy lifestyle adds years to life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140708092131.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
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