Posts Tagged ‘lifestyle’

Lifestyle factors in life expectancy

Sunday, May 1st, 2016 | Health & Wellbeing, Science


In 2008 the European EPIC study began to publish their results. The study followed over half a million people and follow-ups continue. However, one factor was clear from the moment that the results started coming in: your lifestyle choices have a big impact on your life expectancy. A paper published in PLoS Med placed the figure at 14 years.

In 2014, BMC Medicine published a paper that broke down the factors into life expectancy years.

Factor Men Women
Heavy smoking (10 or more per day) 9.4 years 7.3 years
Smoking (less than 10 per day) 5.3 years 5.0 years
Being underweight (BMI less than 22.5) 3.5 years 2.1 years
Obesity (BMI over 30) 3.1 years 3.2 years
Heavy drinking (more than 4 drinks per day) 3.1 years  
Eating processed/red meat (more than 120g per day)   2.4 years

What should we take from this? Nobody would contest that smoking is bad for you, so that is an easy one.

According to the data, the next biggest factor is maintaining a healthy body weight. This probably makes sense. In order to maintain a healthy body weight you have to eat sensibly and exercise, so it is not surprising that this correlates with a longer life expectancy.

Heavy drinking reduces your life expectancy. Interesting, this does not mean that you should cut out alcohol. Non-drinkers actually have the lowest life expectancy. It’s not much worse than being a heavy drinker, but nor is it an improvement. The longest life expectancy are those that drink moderately.

Finally, diet plays a factor too. The EPIC study, and other studies around the world are clear that processed meat takes years off your life. Red meat probably does too. Whether you can eat white meat and fish is less clear. Most studies seem to suggest they have little to no impact. However, the Loma Linda University study suggests that there could be measurable health benefits in being vegetarian. The NHS has published a summary. It concludes that vegetarians have a longer life expectancy, and there is some support for this in the EPIC study as well.


Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 | Thoughts

Alcohol is an interesting creature. As Gijsbert points out, it makes us feel really ill every Saturday morning and yet we all go out and drink it again next Friday night. That is in large part due to how addictive alcohol is, and leads it to be classified as a more dangerous drug than cannabis, LSD, ecstasy and many others.

Some groups are so afraid that their members will go off the rails if they drink the Devil’s Nectar that they are banned completely. Some groups are even so intolerant that they refuse to enter buildings which serve alcohol, even if they aren’t participating themselves.

A few months ago, I started to wonder if my life would actually be better without alcohol. I don’t really get hangovers because I always take a lot of time to sober up before going to bed, but that none the less brings its own problems with sleep deprivation on school nights.

I hadn’t wondered enough to actually give it a go, but as a result of recent events I ended up giving up alcohol as a side effect of some health issues. I also have up caffeine and have made a few other small changes to my diet and lifestyle as well.

However, having been trying all this for a few months now, it turns out that it isn’t any better.

Actually, your life is much better with alcohol. Alcohol is something which can bring real, measurable benefit to our lives. Of course, if you abuse it there are consequences, much like chocolate, credit cards, gambling, vitamins and basically everything in life ever. But enjoyed responsibly, drinking alcohol is really a pleasurable experience.

So learn from my experience. Alcohol is great and there is little to be gained from this clean living nonsense. As with everything else in life, the best path is responsible usage.


Sunday, August 16th, 2009 | Life, Photos, Thoughts

It’s an expensive business this young professional lifestyle.

Picked up a few bottles of wine at Tesco which was an interesting experience, trying to pretend I wasn’t just guesing. As I said on Twitter though I think a sensible policy is to avoid any wine which insists it must be enjoyed with a meal rather than on it’s own.

That is all fair enough but now I just have them sitting around on my side so now I need to buy a wine rack which is even more expense. Might try and hold out until my birthday.