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Healthy Lifestyle Extends Life Span in Older Men

Odds of reaching age 90 are good for those who avoid five key risk factors for premature death

MONDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Older men who practice healthy lifestyle behaviors have a significantly greater chance of reaching an advanced age in which they enjoy good health and physical function, according to a report published in the Feb. 11 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Laurel B. Yates, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study of 2,357 healthy men with a mean age of 72 who were enrolled in the Physicians' Health Study.

After 25 years of follow-up, the researchers found that 970 men (41 percent) survived to at least age 90. They calculated that 72-year-old men with none of five key risk factors -- smoking, diabetes, obesity, hypertension and sedentary lifestyle -- had a 54 percent probability of reaching age 90 compared to a 4 percent probability in men with all five risk factors. They also found that men with longer life spans were more likely to have delayed onset of cancer and heart disease, and experience more disease-free and disability-free years.

"The challenge to current health care providers is to become adept at caring for present and future centenarians with only the beginnings of concrete evidence-based research," states the author of an accompanying editorial. "Our ability to adapt to this challenge may be a prime determinant in shaping the nature of primary care practice in this country. The oldest old are no longer a metaphor for some vague atavistic paradigm of 'oldsters' but rather are becoming the bread and butter of the clinical practice of internal medicine."

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