Healthy lifestyle halves premature death risk in women

Over half of deaths in women from chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease could be avoided if they never smoke, keep their weight in check, take exercise and eat a healthy diet low in red meat and trans-fats, according to a study.

Little research has examined combinations of lifestyle factors in younger populations and women.

Nearly 80,000 women aged 34 to 59 in 1980 took part in the 24-year US study. There were 8,882 deaths including 1,790 from heart disease and 4,527 from cancer.

The authors estimated that 28 per cent of these deaths could have been avoided if women had never smoked and that 55 per cent avoided if women had never smoked, exercised regularly, maintained a healthy diet and weight. Alcohol intake did not substantially change this estimate, although heavy alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk of dying from cancer.

neil.durham@haymarket.com

www.bmj.com

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