Poor health behavior combo has major effect on mortality

May 7, 2010

Combined adverse effects of negative health behaviors may lead to major increases in mortality, according to Norwegian research.

Arch Intern Med. 2010;170:711-718. [April 26, 2010]

The combined ill effects of several negative health behaviors-ranging from suboptimal fruit and vegetable intake to smoking-result in major increases in mortality, according to researchers from University of Oslo in Norway. They conducted a prospective cohort study of 4,886 adults in the United Kingdom who were at least 18 years of age in 1984 to 1985, calculating health behavior scores based on multiple poor health behaviors: smoking, fruit and vegetable consumption less than three times a day, weekly alcohol intake of more than 14 units in women and more than 21 in men, and less than two hours of physical activity a week. Participants were followed for a mean of 20 years, during which time 1,080 died. Combined health behaviors had the strongest effect on deaths from causes other than cancer or cardiovascular disease; they had the weakest on cancer-related mortality. Having four poor health behaviors compared with having no poor health behaviors resulted in an all-cause mortality risk equivalent to being 12 years older than actual age.