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In a good news to middle-aged people, researchers have found that maintaining five healthy habits may increase years lived free of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
According to the study, published in the journal The BMJ, a healthy diet, regular exercise, healthy body weight, moderate drinking, and no tobacco in the middle-age may help people live longer.
"Previous studies found that following a healthy lifestyle improves life expectancy and reduces risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular ailments and cancer. But few studies looked at the effects of lifestyle factors on life expectancy free from such diseases," said study author Yanping Li from Harvard University in the US.
"The study provides strong evidence that following a healthy lifestyle can substantially extend the years a person lives disease-free," Li said.
The researchers looked at 34 years of data from 73,196 women and 28 years of data from 38,366 men participating in the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, respectively.
Healthy diet was defined as food with high score on the Alternate Healthy Eating Index, at least 30-minute a day moderate to vigorous exercise, healthy weight (body mass index of 18.5-24.9 kg/m2), and moderate alcohol intake - up to one serving a day for women and two for men.
Women who practiced four-five healthy habits at age 50 lived an average of 34.4 more years free of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer, compared with 23.7 healthy years among women who practiced none.
Men practicing four-five healthy habits at age 50 lived 31.1 years free of chronic disease, compared with 23.5 years among men who practiced none.
According to the study, men who were heavy smokers, and men and women with obesity had the lowest disease-free life expectancy.
"Given the high cost of chronic disease treatment, public policies to promote a healthy lifestyle by improving food and physical environments would help reduce healthcare costs and improve quality of life," said study senior author Frank Hu.