By Sara Bondell - August 22, 2023
A new study suggests eight lifestyle habits could add years to your life.
The research, presented at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting, aimed at identifying ways to address the root causes of chronic disease and their associated health care costs. It found that men who adopted all eight habits by middle age lived 24 years longer than those who did fewer or none of the habits. Women who adopted all eight habits increased their life expectancy by 23 years compared to those who had not.
The study analyzed about 72,000 U.S. veterans age 40 and older. The identified eight habits were:
- Never Smoking. Cigarette smoking is the No. 1 risk factor for lung cancer, linked to about 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths in the U.S. Smoking can cause other cancers, including blood, bladder, colorectal, liver, stomach and kidney cancers. Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center have developed two smoking cessation interventions that were recently adopted by the National Cancer Institute. Need help quitting? Click here for more information.
- Being physically active. Research shows staying fit can affect if you will develop or even survive cancer. One recent study found that more than 110,000 deaths per year could be prevented in the U.S. if adults over 40 spent just 10 additional minutes a day engaging in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Exercising can include a brisk walk, jog, yoga, gardening, hiking and playing with your kids.
- Managing stress. According to the National Cancer Institute, research suggests chronic stress may cause cancer to progress and spread. It can also prevent the body’s immune system from recognizing and fighting cancer cells. If you’re a cancer patient, there are resources to help manage stress while in treatment. Reducing stress is also critical for caregivers.
- Not regularly binge drinking. The more you drink, the higher your cancer risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drinking alcohol raises your risk of getting several cancers, including head and neck, esophagus, colorectal and liver cancers, as well as breast cancer in women. Should you drink alcohol during or after cancer treatment? Find out here.
- Sleeping well. Your circadian clock is a natural internal process that regulates your sleep/wake cycle and controls things like digestion, metabolism and body temperature. Research has found that heart attacks jump by 25% the day after daylight saving time begins. We also know disruptions in the body’s biological clock may raise the odds of breast, colon, ovarian and prostate cancers.
- Eating healthy. Ultra-processed foods, such as prepackaged snacks, cookies, sodas and ready-to-eat microwave meals, are linked to greater cancer risk. A diet high in a diversity of fruits and vegetables, fish, legumes, whole grains and healthier fats such as nuts and olive oil, and low in processed and refined foods, added sugars, and red and processed meats will help lower your cancer risk.
- Having positive social relationships. A cancer diagnosis and treatment can be an isolating experience. Multiple studies have established a link between social relationships and health; those who feel supported report better quality of life. Moffitt offers a wide range of support groups to help reduce stress and anxiety and connect to others sharing the same experience.
- Not being addicted to opioids. Opioids are a class of powerful drugs that are often prescribed to treat severe pain but can also be associated with problematic use. They can cause side effects such as drowsiness, nausea and constipation and can also cause slowed breathing, which can lead to overdose deaths.