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Unhealthy habits shave years of lifespan

HealthBy Sunday World
Unhealthy habits shave years of lifespan

Whether your naughty indulgence is a sneaky cigarette, a large glass of red or skipping the gym to binge watch your favourite TV shows, one thing’s for sure; we’ve all been there. But new research from Canada has shown our unhealthy habits can shave years off of our life expectancy.

The team from The University of Ottawa, led by Dr. Doug Manuel, designed an algorithm to analyse data from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and the Statistics Canada 2009-2010 Canadian Community Health Survey. It was found that 26 per cent of all deaths are attributable to smoking, 24 per cent to physical inactivity, 12 per cent to poor diet and 0.4 per cent to unhealthy alcohol consumption.

“Unhealthy behaviours place a major burden on Canadian life expectancies," Dr. Manuel said. "This study identified which behaviours pose the biggest threat."

Results have been published in PLOS Medicine, with the team also sharing how many years are cut off by the indulgent habits. For men, smoking carries the highest risk factor, representing a loss of 3.1 years. Whereas for women it’s a lack of physical exercise, which sees a loss of three years.

Researchers also looked into people who followed healthy behaviours, with results suggesting they live 17.9 years more than individuals with the unhealthiest lifestyles.

"We hope this algorithm can help improve public health planning in the 100 countries around the world which already use population health surveys," said Dr. Heather Manson, Chief of Health Promotion, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention at Public Health Ontario. "Unlike many other tools being used today, our method can measure life expectancy for specific socio-demographic groups or for small changes in risk exposure."

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