Anthony L. Komaroff, MD reviewing
A long-term analysis suggests that adopting such a lifestyle at midlife might add as long as 10 years of disease-free life.
Virtually everyone knows that a healthful lifestyle — never smoking, normal body-mass index (BMI), moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, moderate alcohol intake, and a higher-quality diet — is good for their health. What very few people know is just how much benefit they get from achieving all these lifestyle goals.
A Harvard team examined data from about 111,000 people at age 50 and followed them prospectively for as long as 34 years. Healthful lifestyle factors were measured repeatedly and systematically, and development of various diseases and death were recorded. The primary endpoint was life expectancy free from diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Women who met all the healthful lifestyle measures had an additional 10.7 years of disease-free life compared with women who met no healthful lifestyle measures. For men, the number was 7.6 additional disease-free years.
Most of my patients know that a healthful lifestyle is good for them, but very few appreciate just how good — which negatively affects their desire to adopt one. This report might be helpful in that regard. You can say to your 50-year-old patient: “Adopting a healthful lifestyle (compared with not doing so) might allow you to live an additional 7 to 10 disease-free years.” For many, that would be an attractive and meaningful goal.
EDITOR DISCLOSURES AT TIME OF PUBLICATION
Li Y et al. Healthy lifestyle and life expectancy free of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: Prospective cohort study. BMJ 2020 Jan 8; 368:l6669. (https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l6669)