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Study reveals path to longer life

People who give up smoking, take exercise, drink in moderation and eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day can live for up to 14 years longer, new research suggests.

The study looked at 20,000 men and women aged between 45 and 79 from Norfolk between 1993 and 2006.

None of them were known to have cancer or heart disease, and the scientists found social class or body mass index (BMI) had no effect on their life expectancy.

But smoking had the biggest impact on people's health, with smokers 77% more likely to die during the course of the study.

Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables came next, with high vitamin C levels giving people a 44% better chance of being alive by the end of the project.

Drinking less than 14 units of alcohol a week also improved people's chance of survival by 26%, while being being physically active lifted it by 24%.

The research by The Public Library of Science Medicine is published in the journal PLoS Medicine, and concludes: "The results of the study strongly suggest that these four achievable lifestyle changes could have a marked improvement on the health of middle-aged and older people, which is particularly important given the ageing population in the UK and other European countries."

PLoS Medicine

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Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"If life expectancy for a female is now around 78 years, who in all honesty wants to add another 14years. Fine if you keep your health and have a fantastic pension. The reality is relative poverty and/or ending up staring at the TV screen in a business driven care home. No thanks not for me" - Name and address supplied

"Not smoking is a sure way to living longer. Eating fruit and veggies and having a small tipple every now and again may add, at best, about five years to my life because I am already a nonsmoker and walk a fair bit at work. It doesn't seem to be a great deal in the scheme of things then" - Name and address supplied