Background-Americans have a shorter life expectancy compared with residents of nearly all other high-income countries.
Exercising regularly, adopting a healthful diet, not smoking, not becoming overweight, and drinking only moderate amounts of alcohol could all lengthen life at age 50 for women by 14 years and for men by 12 years.
Harvard researchers discovered that adherence to five lifestyle practices is associated with more than 10 years of increased longevity, as well as reduced risk for cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Americans have a shorter average life expectancy - 79.3 years - than nearly all other high-income countries.
These are lifestyle behaviors that impact health that individuals can do something about.
The five healthy habits were defined as not smoking; having a body mass index between 18.5 and 25; taking at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, having no more than one 150ml glass of wine a day for women, or two for men; and having a diet rich in items such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains and low in red meat, saturated fats and sugar. In contrast, for those who adopted all 5 low-risk factors, we projected a life expectancy at age 50 years of 43.1 years (95% CI, 41.3-44.9) for women and 37.6 years (95% CI, 35.8-39.4) for men.
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The data for the new research came from the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.
"Our findings have significant public health implications, because they demonstrate the great potential of diet and lifestyle changes in improving life expectancy", said senior researcher Dr. Among women, the five lifestyle factors were linked to 14 years of additional life expectancy. They found that following the five healthy habits above can reduce the overall risk of death by 74 percent, the risk of death from heart disease by 82 percent, and the risk of death from cancer by 65 percent.
Life expectancy at the time of birth in the US rose from 63 years in 1940 to 79 years in 2014.
"But the surprising thing was how huge the effect was", said Meir Stampfer, a co-author on the study and professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
Researchers led by Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health also found that USA women and men who maintained the healthiest lifestyles were 82 per cent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 65 per cent less likely to die from cancer when compared with those with the least healthy lifestyles over the course of the roughly 30-year study period.
Conclusions-Adopting a healthy lifestyle could substantially reduce premature mortality and prolong life expectancy in U.S. adults.