A healthy lifestyle equals more years of life without major diseases

Connections: “Various healthy lifestyle profiles appear to be associated with extended gains in life lived without type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and cancer.” 


What does this mean?/background:

Healthy habits add up to 10 disease-free years to your life, study reveals. NHS: Behind the Headlines, January 9, 2020.


Nyberg, S. T., Singh-Manoux, A., Pentti, J., Madsen, I. E. H., Sabia, S., Alfredsson, L., . . . Kivimäki, M. (2020). Association of healthy lifestyle with years lived without major chronic diseases. JAMA Internal Medicine, available April 6, 2020. [PDF] [Cited by]

It is well established that selected lifestyle factors are individually associated with lower risk of chronic diseases, but how combinations of these factors are associated with disease-free life-years is unknown.

A prospective multicohort study, including 12 European studies as part of the Individual-Participant-Data Meta-analysis in Working Populations Consortium, was performed. Participants included 116 043 people free of major noncommunicable disease at baseline from August 7, 1991, to May 31, 2006. Data analysis was conducted from May 22, 2018, to January 21, 2020.

Main Outcomes — The number of years between ages 40 and 75 years without chronic disease, including type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Of the 116 043 people included in the analysis, the mean age was 43.7 years and 70 911 were women (61.1%). During 1.45 million person-years at risk (mean follow-up, 12.5 years), 17 383 participants developed at least 1 chronic disease. There was a linear association between overall healthy lifestyle score and the number of disease-free years, such that a 1-point improvement in the score was associated with an increase of 0.96 (95% CI, 0.83-1.08) disease-free years in men and 0.89 (95% CI, 0.75-1.02) years in women. Comparing the best lifestyle score with the worst lifestyle score was associated with 9.9 additional years without chronic diseases in men and 9.4 additional years in women. All of the 4 lifestyle profiles that were associated with the highest number of disease-free years included a body-mass index less than 25 (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) and at least 2 of the following factors: never smoking, physical activity, and moderate alcohol consumption. Participants with 1 of these lifestyle profiles reached age 70.3 to 71.4 years disease free depending on the profile and sex.

Li, Y., Schoufour, J., Wang, D. D., Dhana, K., Pan, A., Liu, X., . . . Hu, F. B. (2020). Healthy lifestyle and life expectancy free of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: Prospective cohort study. BMJ : British Medical Journal, 368, l6669. [PDF] [Cited by]

“Objective — to examine how a healthy lifestyle is related to life expectancy that is free from major chronic diseases.

Setting and participants — the Nurses’ Health Study (1980-2014; n=73 196) and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (1986-2014; n=38 366).

Main exposures — five low risk lifestyle factors: never smoking, body mass index 18.5-24.9, moderate to vigorous physical activity (≥30 minutes/day), moderate alcohol intake, and a higher diet quality score (upper 40%).

The life expectancy free of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer at age 50 was 23.7 years for women who adopted no low risk lifestyle factors, in contrast to 34.4 years for women who adopted four or five low risk factors. At age 50, the life expectancy free of any of these chronic diseases was 23.5 years among men who adopted no low risk lifestyle factors and 31.1 years in men who adopted four or five low risk lifestyle factors. For current male smokers who smoked heavily (≥15 cigarettes/day) or obese men and women (body mass index ≥30), their disease-free life expectancies accounted for the lowest proportion of total life expectancy at age 50.

Adherence to a healthy lifestyle at mid-life is associated with a longer life expectancy free of major chronic diseases.

For more:

For additional research about a healthy lifestyle, please see the Science Primary Literature Database.

Questions? Please let me know (engelk@grinnell.edu)

Was this helpful?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.