A study has shown that women can have 10 while men can gain seven years of life free of diseases, such as cancer, heart problems and type-2 diabetes, from a healthy lifestyle.
The study, which examined 110,000 people in over 20 years, revealed that people can gain disease-free years by following a healthy lifestyle. This involves exercising regularly, drinking in moderation only, having a healthy weight and good diet and not smoking.
Lead author Dr. Frank Hu of Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston, said the study had “a positive message for the public”. He pointed out: “They gain not just more years of life but good years through improved lifestyle choices.”
The study participants, who reached the age of 50, were asked if they met at least four of five criteria.
a. never smoking
b. a healthy, balanced diet
c. 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity every day
c. a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9
e. no more alcohol than a small glass of wine a day for women and a pint of beer for men
Women who accomplished four of the five criteria lived an average of another 34 years free of cancer, cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes, which is 10 years longer than those who did not.
On the other hand, men who complied had another 31 years of disease-free life, seven years more than unhealthy men could expect. The discrepancy between the women and men may be attributed to the higher life expectancy of women.
The study also found that men who smoked more than 15 cigarettes a day and obese men and women had the lowest disease-free life expectancy.
Study results indicated that in both sexes, not only did a healthy lifestyle reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes, it also improved survival when diagnosed with any of the diseases.
Dr. Hu said “The benefits add up for men and women.”