A large, long term study of older adults has analysed the predictors of mortality. In decreasing order, they are:

  • Smoking (hazard ratio of 1.9, which means 90% more likely to cause death than not smoking)
  • Divorce (1.4, 40% more likely)
  • Alcohol abuse (1.3)
  • Financial difficulties (1.3)
  • Unemployment (1.3)
  • Life dissatisfaction (1.3)
  • Never married (1.3)
  • Low mood (1.2)
  • Negative interactions with family (1.2)
  • Negative childhood experiences (1.2)
  • Discrimination (1.2)
  • Pessimism (1.2)
  • Inactivity (1.2)
  • Loneliness (1.1)
  • Lower wealth (1.1)
  • Insomnia (1.1)
  • Lower education (1.1)
  • Religion (1, which means no difference)

These findings emphasise the importance of social determinants, such as childhood experiences, employment,  and support from friends and family, in addition to the well documented risk factors such as smoking, alcohol abuse or inactivity. Other studies also identify the following predictors:

  • Self-reported health status
  • Mobility limitations
  • Functional capacity – ability to perform activities of daily living at home (e.g. showering)
  • Mental health condition

This highlights the need to consider broader influences beyond physical risk factors – all aspects of our lives impact our health and well-being. To buck the trend and live as long as possible, consider the following evidence-based habits:

  • Low calorie intake
  • Nuts – at least 3 servings per week associated with a 39% lower risk of premature death
  • Plant-based diets, associated with a 12–15% lower risk of premature death
  • Exercise – 15 minutes of per day results in an additional 3 years of life
  • Quit smoking – quitting by age 35 extends life by 8.5 years, quitting by age 60 extends life by 3.7 years
  • Moderate your alcohol intake – mild intake can reduce premature death, but heavy intake will lead to premature death
  • Be happy – happier individuals have a 3.7% reduction in early death risk vs pessimistic individuals have a 42% higher risk of early death
  • Reduce stress – chronic stress and anxiety can increase premature death by twice in females and three times in males
  • Friends – having a few social ties can decrease your risk of early death by 200%

References:

  • https://www.pnas.org/content/117/28/16273
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5791760/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4951106/
  • https://jech.bmj.com/content/jech/39/4/337.full.pdf
  • https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-habits-linked-to-a-long-life
Posted in Uncategorised