A healthy lifestyle extends life expectancy even for patients suffering from chronic diseases

Eliminate cigarettes, eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, do some sport, do not overdo alcohol. Simple habits that can earn years of life even for those with multiple chronic diseases. In particular, smoking makes the difference: giving it up allows you to extend your life expectancy up to 7 years. This was stated in a study published in Plos Medicine and conducted by Yogini Chudasama of the University of Leicester (Great Britain) together with other colleagues. 480,940 people were analyzed, collecting their data between 2006 and 2010 from the UK biobank. The follow up continued until 2016.

The results

The researchers took into consideration 36 chronic diseases, from diabetes to multiple sclerosis, choosing to define as comorbidity the presence of two or more pathologies in the same patient. According to the study, the comparison of the information shows that the healthier the habits, the longer the life, despite the presence of diseases. At 45 for men with comorbidities and very healthy styles, the average gain was 6.3 years, for women 7.6. In the disease-free population sample, the expectation increases by 7.6 and 6.5 years, respectively. Smoking associated with the greatest risk: 45-year-old smokers had a life expectancy of 5-6 years lower than those who do not give up cigarettes. Regular sport ranks second for survival benefits.

Some limitations

Among the limitations that the researchers report in their work, the use of self-reported data by the interviewees regarding lifestyles, which therefore may be inaccurate. However, the same method used by many large epidemiological studies. British research can guide the behavior of both individuals and authorities called upon to deal with public health. It is also an important study because it is longitudinal, with data from subjects enrolled and followed up to ten years, says Nicola Montano, head of internal medicine at the Milan Polyclinic.

Two more pillars

In addition to the four factors considered, nutrition, smoking, alcohol and sport, there is a fifth pillar to consider, which has a huge impact: the sleep. Sleeping the right amount of hours is fully part of life-extending interventions. Sixth element, lo stress: it is important to activate mechanisms to reduce it. Prevention doesn’t just reduce your chances of getting sick. Even those with pathologies can obtain benefits by following correct behaviors. And how to interpret the different weight of the factors studied? As a scale of effectiveness: we start by eliminating smoking, then we correct other behaviors.

29 September 2020 (change September 29, 2020 | 09:08)

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