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Health Team

Study Finds Secrets To Long, Healthy Life

Posted November 14, 2006

WRAL Health Team
A 40-year study might not have discovered the fountain of youth, but researchers said the effort did point out factors that lead to a long and healthy life.

The Pacific Health Research Institute in Honolulu studied more than 5,000 Japanese-American men over the past four decades, from middle age to their later years. Researchers found nine factors in middle age predict a long life: lean body weight, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, low bad cholesterol, moderate alcohol consumption, no smoking, high hand grip strength, higher levels of education and being married.

People who meet those nine criteria have an 80 percent chance of living to 80, said Dr. Bradley Wilcox, the lead author of the study, which is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Your chances were more than 60 percent of being healthy at that age if you avoided these risk factors. Yet, if you had six or more of these risk factors, you had less than a 10 percent chance of living into your mid-80s," Wilcox said.

Funded by the National Institute on Aging, the study focused on that particular demographic group because they tend to have longer life spans than other Americans.

"This kind of study can give us clues as to what are those important factors for having a healthy old age," Wilcox said.

He said he hopes middle-aged people will work on the risk factors so they can improve their chances of a long, healthy life, adding that men don't age as healthfully as women.
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