Researchers from the UK studied the effects of not smoking, physical activity, moderate alcohol intake, and vitamin C blood levels as an indication of fruit and vegetable intake on the risk of stoke.

First, the details.

  • 20,040 older men and women with no history of stroke or heart attack and living in the general community over about 11 years were studied.
  • Participants scored 1 point for each health behavior.
    • Current non-smoking
    • Physically not inactive
    • Moderate alcohol intake (1-14 units a week)
    • Blood levels of vitamin C of at least 50 mcmol/L, indicating fruit and vegetable intake of at least 5 servings a day
  • Total scores ranged from 0 to 4.

And, the results.

  • Those not engaged in any of the 4 specific healthy behaviors had more than twice the risk for stroke compared to those who engaged in all 4 — exercising regularly (or having a nonsedentary occupation), not smoking, eating at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables daily, and drinking moderately.
  • The risk for stroke increased linearly with increasing numbers of unhealthy behaviors.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “The combined impact of the 4 health behaviors, though relatively modest and potentially achievable across all ages, sex, and social classes, was associated with an estimated 2.3-fold difference in risk of stroke.”

2/20/09 22:54 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.