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Healthy Behaviors Can Take 14 Years Off Your Age

Following four healthy practices, compared to none, provides a fourfold difference in mortality risk

MONDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- People who engage in four particular health-related behaviors have roughly one-quarter the mortality risk of those who practice none of the behaviors, according to research published in the January PLoS Medicine.

Kay-Tee Khaw, of the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed data from a prospective study of 20,244 middle-aged and older men and women, who were followed for an average of 11 years. Subjects had no known history of cardiovascular disease or cancer at baseline. Using a simple scale, researchers gave subjects a score of zero to four, with a point assigned for each of the following behaviors: current non-smoking status, not being physically inactive, consuming alcohol moderately (one to 14 units a week), and plasma vitamin C measure indicating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily.

Compared to subjects practicing four behaviors, the relative risk for all-cause mortality was 1.39 for those with three behaviors, 1.95 for two, 2.52 for one, and 4.04 for none. These were adjusted for age, sex, body mass index and social class. The difference between a score of zero and four is equivalent to roughly 14 years of age in terms of mortality risk.

"These results may provide further support for the idea that even small differences in lifestyle may make a big difference to health in the population and encourage behavior change," the authors conclude.

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