Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Four Ways to Prolong Life

Greetings! I have been recovering from knee surgery for the last several weeks, so I haven't posted for a while. But, I'm happy to say that I'm doing well, and planning to return to work in a week.

How would you like to live an average of 14 years longer? A study reported today by Kay-Tee Khaw and colleagues at the University of Cambridge in the UK suggested that 4 behaviors would prolong life by an average of 14 years. These were:

1. Drinking only moderately (this is usually defined as no more than 2 alcoholic beverages per day)
2. Quitting smoking (or not starting if you don't)
3. Exercise (usually defined as 30 or minutes of aerobic exercise on 5 days of the week)
4. Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

The authors questioned 20,000 people between 1993 and 1999, assigning them one point for each of the above healthy behaviors. After controlling for age and other factors, they found that persons with a score of "0" were four times more likely to die.

The researchers tracked deaths among the participants until 2006 and found that a person with a health score of 0 had the same risk of dying as someone with a health score of 4 who was 14 years older, thus the presumption that the healthy habits were likely to proling life.

I have long advocated keeping simple goals such as these four behaviours for maintaining health. Therefore, I'm delighted to see quantifiable evidence of benefits. Since I haven't seen the original study or analyzed the data, I can't be certain that the study doesn't have some statistical flaws, but I am willing to accept that there is life-extending benefit to these behaviors and recommend them as the basis for good health.
In this season of resolutions, why not adopt these four simple, but profound, lifestyle changes and make a choice to lead a healthier and longer life!

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