Unhealthy lifestyles cab cut lifespan by 23 years, says study

10 July 2015

Unhealthy lifestyles, including being overweight and smoking and drinking, could cut a person's lifespan by 23 years, warn scientists.

A combination of heart disease and diabetes can take away more than a decade from the average person's life span.

However, a person would need to be diagnosed with diabetes and suffer both a stroke and heart attack before the age of 40, for their life expectancy to be cut by 23 years, the study revealed.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, came to the conclusion after analysing data pertaining to over 135,000 deaths among over a million study participants.

Unhealthy lifestyles, including being overweight and smoking and drinking, could cut lifespan by 23 years, scientists found. The life expectancy reductions were calculated from data associatd with a history of 'cardiometabolic' diseases combining diabetes, strokes and heart attacks.

While considerable research existed about the risk of an early death from having one of these conditions, evidence about reduced life expectancy from having all three at the same time was limited, researchers said.

According to the researchers, there existed a stronger link between these diseases and death in men than in women. They added men were less likely to survive from the conditions than women.

It had been estimated that the majority of these diseases were preventable by maintaining a healthy weight, taking regular exercise, eating healthily, and not drinking or smoking too much. 

The researchers analysed over 135,000 deaths that occurred during prolonged follow-up of almost 1.2 million participants. They found  that an individual in his/her 60s having both the conditions had an average reduction in life expectancy of about 15 years.

A combination of diabetes and heart disease was associated with a substantially lower life expectancy,'' said Emanuele Di Angelantonio from the department of public health.

At the age of 60 years, men, with any two of the conditions would on average have 12 years of reduced life expectancy.

Men with three conditions diabetes, stroke and heart attack (cardiometabolic diseases) would have 14 years of reduced life expectancy.

For women of the same age, the corresponding estimates were 13 years and 16 years of reduced life expectancy.

''Our results highlight the importance of preventing heart disease and stroke among patients with diabetes, and likewise averting diabetes amongst heart disease patients,'' said professor John Danesh, study co-author.

Measures aimed at reducing diabetes and heart disease among this group could dramatically impact their lives, the study said.

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