WASHINGTON, July 13, 2016 – Just about everyone is familiar with the old adage about how short life is. However, it doesn’t actually have to be as short as it is for those whose lifestyles often put them on the road to a premature death.
We all know that we’re not going to live forever, or at least that science hasn’t yet figured out how to make that dream possible. Although many would agree that it’s sometimes best to just live it up while we still can, there are some things we may be doing that can make our prospects much worse.
Sometimes even modern medicine can’t save us from ourselves. With that in mind, let’s take a brief look at some factors that can reduce life expectancy.
Results of a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicate that smokers reduce their life expectancy by at least 10 years. According to the co-author of the study, smoking is currently the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the United States. Data examined in the study was compiled from a national survey taken between 1997 and 2004. On the bright side, it seems that all hope is not lost. The study also showed that smokers who successfully quit before the age of 40 are typically able to reduce this risk by around go percent.
2. Body Mass Index (BMI)
Research conducted by Oxford University appears to show that even moderate obesity can reduce your life expectancy by around three years. Similarly, severe obesity can reduce it by at least 10 years. A loss of 10 years in life expectancy is about the same as what a lifelong smoker can expect, as mentioned above.
BMI, or body mass index, is calculated by dividing a person’s weight by his or her height. Typically, if your BMI is 25 or over, you’re considered slightly overweight. Moderate obesity is typically associated with a BMI of between 30 and 35. A BMI of between 40 and 50 indicates someone who is severely obese.
3) Diabetes or Cardiovascular Disease
According to information from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a person with type 2 diabetes is twice as likely to develop heart disease, and 65 percent of those who have diabetes will die from either heart disease or stroke.
As if this weren’t enough, they’re also twice as likely to have a second heart attack. When you consider that heart failure is also linked to other debilitating conditions, such as blood clots, dementia and osteoporosis, it’s easy to see why someone who wants to live a relatively long and healthy life should make every effort to eat right and take care of his or her body.
4. Financial Troubles
For seniors, having trouble managing money and financial obligations can be an indication of mild cognitive impairment. This can double the risk of death in older people, according to a recent study presented at an Alzheimer’s conference in Vancouver.
Other difficulties with planning and organizing and generally poor judgment can also point to cognitive impairment. However, researchers have also indicated that detecting this condition early and monitoring it carefully can go a long way toward prolonging a person’s life.
5. Too Much Television
As commonplace as TV-watching is today, especially in the West, Harvard researchers have concluded that spending even two hours per day in front of the television can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and premature death.
Although sitting for prolonged periods has also been known to lead to many of the same types of problems, watching television seems to actually worsen the harmful effects of sitting. For a person over the age of 25, each hour of television is said to reduce life expectancy by over 21 minutes.
6. Poor Sleeping Habits
Finally, getting an inadequate amount of sleep on a regular basis is another potential killer that is often not given the attention that it deserves. According to Harvard Medical School, people who get less than five hours of sleep have significantly shorter life expectancies than those who are able to get the eight hours typically recommended for optimal function.
Research has previously shown that chronic lack of sleep can lead to a greater risk of diabetes, heart disease, dementia, weight gain and various forms of cancer. All of these are obvious risk factors for an early death.
Ultimately, how long people live has a great deal to do with how well they take care of themselves. Although there’s scarcely anyone around today who hasn’t heard about the dangers of smoking and eating junk food, people continue to take part in these unhealthy activities, choosing to live for the moment rather than investing in a longer and happier life.
While it goes without saying that even someone who makes every attempt to stay healthy can still die from any number of unforeseen illnesses, the risk of premature death goes down considerably when you cut back on the factors that can reduce life expectancy.
Maggie Martin is completing her doctorate in cell biology, works as a lab tech for Mybiosource.com and administered ELISA kits in the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases. She contributes content on Biotech, Life Sciences, and Viral Outbreaks. Follow on Twitter @MaggieBiosource