THURSDAY, Jan. 9, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Adherence to a healthy lifestyle at midlife is associated with increased life expectancy free of major chronic diseases, according to a study published online Jan. 8 in The BMJ.

Yanping Li, Ph.D., from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study to examine how a healthy lifestyle is related to life expectancy free from major chronic diseases. Data were included from 73,196 participants from the Nurses’ Health Study and 38,366 from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. The main exposures were five lifestyle factors: never smoking; body mass index 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m²; ≥30 minutes/day of moderate to vigorous physical activity; moderate alcohol intake; and a higher diet quality score.

The researchers found that life expectancy free of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer at age 50 was 23.7 and 34.4 years for women who adopted no versus four or five low-risk lifestyle factors. Among men, the corresponding life expectancy was 23.5 and 31.1 years, respectively. Disease-free life expectancies for current male smokers who smoked heavily or obese men and women accounted for the lowest proportion (≤75 percent) of total life expectancy at age 50 years.

“Promotion of a healthy lifestyle would help to reduce the health care burdens through lowering the risk of developing multiple chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, and extending disease-free life expectancy,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the nutrition and health industries.

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