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Midlife Self-Care Extends Men's Life Span into 80s, 90s

Avoidance of risk factors in middle-age increases men's probability of reaching a ripe old age

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Middle-aged men who avoid common risk factors for chronic disease have a better chance of achieving an "exceptional" survival, defined as living to age 85 and beyond without physical or mental impairment, according to a study published in the Nov. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Bradley J. Willcox, M.D., of the Pacific Health Research Institute in Honolulu, Hawaii, and colleagues conducted a 40-year study of 5,820 Japanese-American men, of whom 2,451 (42 percent) survived to age 85. Eleven percent were defined as exceptional survivors because they did not have any of six major chronic diseases and had no physical and cognitive impairment.

The researchers found that overall and exceptional survival were associated with high grip strength, as well as avoidance of overweight, hyperglycemia, hypertension, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. They also found that exceptional survival was associated with high education and avoidance of hypertriglyceridemia. Their analysis suggested that men with no risk factors have significantly higher probabilities of reaching age 85 than men with six or more risk factors (69 percent versus as low as 22 percent) and of exceptional survival (55 percent versus 9 percent).

"These risk factors can be easily measured in clinical settings and are, for the most part, modifiable," the authors conclude. "This may be especially important for men, few of whom survive to oldest-old age.

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