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.
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