If you want to die younger, or just want to look antiquated while you’re still alive, the answer is at hand. Read on:
United Kingdom Health and Lifestyle Survey Points the Way
Results are in, and The United Kingdom Health and Lifestyle Survey, performed in England over the course of 20 years, has shown that people who practice four common bad habits can take as much as 12 years off their life expectancy. So if your aim in life is to die young, or if you just want to look like an old bag while you’re still alive, just add these four behaviors (all legal, I might add!) to your repertoire, and see what happens.
For those of you who don’t want to waste another minute, let me cut to the chase. Here are the four behaviors. Give yourself one point for each that already counts.
1. Smoking (any amount, unless you’ve already quit)
2. Alcohol consumption: over two drinks a day for women, or three drinks a day for men
3. Physical activity: less than two hours a week
3. Fruit and vegetable consumption: less than three a day
The total is your Health Behavior Score.
How Were These Four Bad Habits Linked to Aging?
When the study began back in 1984 and 1985, nearly 5,000 individuals (4,886, to be precise) were selected from all over the United Kingdom. All of the subjects were 18 or older, and the average age was 44.
Their health at the time was evaluated, and each test subject received one point for each of the four bad behaviors already exhibited. These people were questioned only once about their bad habits, at the beginning of the study. This could be considered a flaw in the study itself, but lead researcher Elisabeth Kvaavik, of the University of Oslo, discounts that as a serious factor, since most people’s bad habits remain stable throughout adulthood.
Health Behavior Scores of the Study Participants
Of the 4,886 original participants, a total of 387 started out with a Health Behavior Score of 0 (no bad habits), while 314 began the study with a Health Behavior Score of 4 (all four bad habits).
Twenty Years Later: The Envelope, Please
At the end of the 20 years, 1080 (or 22 percent) of the original 4,886 participants had died: Here’s how:
Total Deaths of Study Participants from Cardiovascular Disease: 431
Total Deaths of Study Participants from Cancer: 318
Total Deaths of Study Participants from All Other Causes Combined: 331
Health Behavior Scores of the Deceased Study Participants
Of the 314 original subjects who exhibited all four of the unhealthy behaviors, a total of 91, or a full 29 percent, died during the study. By contrast, of the 387 original subjects who exhibited none of the four bad habits, a total of only 32, or 8 percent, died during the study.
No Need to Leave Your Westernized Homeland
According to Kvaavik, these results would apply to all westernized nations, United States included. And June Stevens, public health researcher at the University of North Carolina, agrees, stating that the results of this study agree with those of previous studies on the effects of bad habits on longevity.
You, Too Can Increase Your Odds of Looking Old and Dying Young
The bottom line here is, if you want to increase your odds of dying before your time, and at the same time look as old and dilapidated as possible, keep it up with those bad habits. But if you want to live a long life and look great doing it, you might want to think about giving them up. Starting now!
Time.com: “Study: Bad Habits Can Age You By 12 Years”
Archives of Internal Medicine: “Influence of Individual and Combined Health Behaviors on Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Men and Women”