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Study Suggests Healthy Lifestyle Mitigates Genetic Risk for Early Death by 60%

A groundbreaking study published in the journal BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine reveals that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of early death, even for individuals with a genetic predisposition to shorter lifespans. Led by Dr. Xue Li, the study conducted by the School of Public Health at Zhejiang University School of Medicine in China analyzed data from over 350,000 individuals with European ancestry.

The research found that individuals with genetic risks for early death could mitigate that risk by approximately 60% through adhering to a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Li emphasized that the study underscores the powerful impact of lifestyle choices on longevity, particularly in light of genetic predispositions.

The study participants were evaluated based on their adherence to various healthy lifestyle factors, including abstaining from smoking, engaging in regular physical activity, ensuring adequate sleep duration (7-8 hours per night), and maintaining a healthy diet, predominantly plant-based. Remarkably, individuals who followed these lifestyle guidelines were able to extend their lifespan by up to 5.5 years, irrespective of their genetic risks.

Dr. Aladdin Shadyab, associate professor of public health and medicine at the University of California San Diego, hailed the study’s robust methodology but cautioned that its applicability may be limited to populations of European ancestry.

The study highlights four key lifestyle factors—no current smoking, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and a healthy diet—that significantly reduced the risk of early death. Embracing these lifestyle changes offers tangible benefits for prolonging human lifespan, according to Dr. Li.

For individuals looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle, various resources are available, including tobacco cessation hotlines, support groups, and apps to assist with smoking cessation. Additionally, strategies such as participating in alcohol-free challenges, embracing the Mediterranean diet, and prioritizing sleep hygiene can contribute to improved health outcomes and longevity.

While the study underscores the critical role of lifestyle choices in mitigating genetic risks for early death, it also emphasizes the need for ongoing public health efforts to promote healthier behaviors and reduce premature mortality rates worldwide.