CancerHeart DiseaseWalking

Health behaviors can affect your longevity

Researchers from the University of Cambridge in the UK looked at the potential combined impact of 4 health behaviors.

First, the details.

  • 20,244 men and women aged 45 to 79 years with no known cardiovascular disease or cancer were followed for an average of 11 years.
  • Participants scored one point for each health behavior.
    • Current non-smoking
    • Not physically inactive
    • Moderate alcohol intake (1 to 14 units a week)
    • At least 5 servings of fruit and veggies a day (confirmed by vitamin C blood levels).

And, the results.

  • After adjusting for age, gender, body mass, and social class, more healthy behaviors were significantly related to longer life.
  • The benefits were greatest for cardiovascular disease.
  • The addition of each healthy behavior made a significant effect on longevity.
  • The mortality risk for those with 4 compared to zero health behaviors was equivalent to being 14 years younger in chronological age.

The bottom line?
An impressive study, although the details might cause confusion. For example, what does “not physically inactive” mean?

If we assume that physical activity is defined as brisk walking 30 minutes 5 days per week. How would you rate on the 4 health behaviors?

Which behavior is the most difficult for you? I find the 5 servings of fruits and veggies each day is the most difficult to do — but probably worth the effort.

1/9/08 22:42 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.