Monday, July 8, 2024

Healthy habits: Eight factors that extend life by decades

Tagesspiegel Healthy habits: Eight factors that extend life by decades Stefan Parsch, dpa • 11 months • 3 minutes reading time With a healthy lifestyle, 40-year-old men can live 23.7 years longer and women 22.6 years longer, a long-term study shows. Smoking and opioids have a particularly negative effect. Being physically active is a habit that can extend life. With a healthy lifestyle, 40-year-old men can live an average of 23.7 years longer than with a very harmful one. For women, this difference is 22.6 years. This is the result of the analysis of a long-term study of former members of the American military, which a research team presented at the international conference "Nutrition 2023" in Boston. Another study was able to show how important information about cancer risk factors is. The team led by Xuan-Mai Nguyen from the University of Illinois analyzed data from over 700,000 US veterans aged 40 to 99. They defined eight habits as a healthy lifestyle: being physically active, not smoking, being able to deal with stress well, eating well, not drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, sleeping well and regularly, maintaining positive social relationships and not being dependent on opioid painkillers. "We were really surprised at how much could be gained by introducing one, two, three or all eight lifestyle factors," Nguyen is quoted as saying in a statement from the American Society for Nutrition. The biggest risk factors turned out to be low physical activity, dependence on opioid painkillers and smoking. These factors were each associated with an increased risk of death of 30 to 45 percent during the study period. The earlier the better, but even if you make just one small change at 40, 50 or 60, it is still beneficial. Xuan-Mai Nguyen from the University of Illinois Poor stress management, high alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet and poor sleep hygiene each increased the risk of death by around 20 percent, while a lack of good social contacts increased the risk by five percent. The doctors found that changing to a healthy lifestyle increases life expectancy even in old age. "The earlier the better, but even if you make just one small change at 40, 50 or 60, it is still beneficial," emphasizes Nguyen. Changing this one thing can help you live longer! The data for the study comes from the Million Veteran Program, a national research program in the USA that examines how genes, lifestyle and military experiences affect the health and well-being of former military personnel. The analysis by Nguyen and colleagues considered data from 719,147 veterans collected between 2011 and 2019. Reduce your own cancer risk through prevention Lifestyle also plays an important role in reducing the risk of cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), risk factors for cancer include alcohol, low physical activity, unhealthy diet, obesity, red and processed meat, sugary drinks, tobacco consumption and ultraviolet radiation. A study by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) found that in ten high-income industrialized countries, on average one-third of respondents do not follow cancer prevention recommendations. The countries studied were Australia, Germany, France, Great Britain, Israel, Japan, Canada, Sweden, Spain and the USA. People in Japan are the least informed "It is important to understand whether people do nothing to reduce their personal cancer risk because they do not know about the risk factors, or whether they do not act despite knowing about the risk factors," says Pricivel Carrera from the National Cancer Prevention Center, according to a statement from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg. Therefore, together with her DKFZ colleague Silvia Calderazzo, she analyzed the data from the UICC study with regard to the level of knowledge about cancer risk factors. They found that if the number of people who are well informed about cancer risk factors increases by one percentage point, the number of people who take measures to reduce their risk increases by an average of 0.169 percentage points. People in Japan were the least informed and also practiced cancer prevention the least. But respondents in Germany also had below-average knowledge about cancer risk factors. “In Germany, around 40 percent of all cancer cases are considered preventable – through a healthy lifestyle and the use of vaccinations,” says Carrera.