Four lifestyle choices reduce risk of chronic disease 80 percent

What an interesting new study. It concludes that to dramatically reduce your healthcare costs, to lengthen your life, to improve the quality of your life, and, in short, to have a happier and more highly healthy life, you need to “only” do four things.

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The Los Angeles Times reports that if each of us would do four things, we could slash our risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke, or cancer by 80 percent.

According to the CDC, the four items are:

  • engage in regular physical activity,
  • eat a healthy diet,
  • not smoke, and
  • avoid becoming obese.

But, according to the CDC researchers, less than 10 percent of the 23,153 people in the multiyear study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, actually lived their lives this way.

The new study, however, may change some minds, because it has “such a simple straightforward focus on making the point that prevention works in preventing serious disease,” noted my good friend, Dr. J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, of the American Cancer Society.

HealthDay reported that CDC investigators, alongside scientists in Germany, “drew on data from a German study conducted between 1994 and 1998” in which participants between 35 and 65 years of age were asked about their “lifestyle characteristics,” disease history, and dietary habits.

“Adherence to four key lifestyle indicators were tracked: never having smoked; having a body-mass index below 30 (the threshold for obesity); exercising for a minimum of 3.5 hours per week; and eating healthfully, as evidenced by a diet high in fruit and vegetable intake, but low in meat.”

Although “most study participants engaged in some (one to three), but not all of the ideal behaviors,” the team found that “less than four percent met none of the criteria for a healthy lifestyle, while nine percent followed all four.”

As for disease incidence, “3.7 percent of participants developed diabetes, 0.9 percent developed myocardial infarction, 0.8 percent developed stroke, and 3.8 percent developed cancer,” MedPage Today reported.

Yet, participants “who followed all four lifestyle factors had a 78 percent lower risk of developing a chronic disease than those with no healthy factors.”

Specifically, they had a “93 percent lower risk of diabetes, an 81 percent lower risk of myocardial infarction, a 50 percent lower risk of stroke,” and a “36 percent lower risk of cancer.” And, “reductions in risk were similar for men and women.”

In light of their work, the “researchers say it’s important to adopt and teach healthy habits early in life,” WebMD reported.

So, how can you do this? I have several books that can help you or your family become more highly healthy: