…according to a new study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, published in The American Heart Association’s Circulation in late April.
U.S. women and men who followed these 5 things: healthy food, exercise, healthy weight, moderate alcohol and no smoking – maintained the healthiest lifestyles over a 30-year period and were 82% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 65% less likely to die from cancer than their unhealthy counterparts.
The American Heart Association isn’t always about healthy prevention. For instance, a cardiologist called their new cholesterol guidelines a “disgrace” and gift to Big Pharma because they put millions of Americans on the “statins list.” However, for this study, prevention in the form of a healthy lifestyle was key.
First, some sobering facts:
- Heart disease is the number #1 killer in the U.S. (and globally, too).
- Americans have a shorter average life expectancy–79.3 years–than almost all other high-income countries.
- The U.S. ranked 31st in the world for life expectancy in 2015.
- Heart disease killed 597,000 Americans in 2011 alone.
Harvard Chan researchers and colleagues looked at 34 years of data from 78,865 women and 27 years of data from 44,354 men participating in, respectively, the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
For study participants who didn’t adopt any of the low-risk lifestyle factors, the researchers estimated that life expectancy at age 50 was 29 years for women and 25.5 years for men. But for those who adopted all five low-risk factors, life expectancy at age 50 was projected to be 43.1 years for women and 37.6 years for men. In other words, women who maintained all five healthy habits gained, on average, 14 years of life, and men who did so gained 12 years, compared with those who didn’t maintain healthy habits.