Eating too much junk food, smoking cigarettes, drinking too much alcohol – all these things can shorten our lives, and we know it. So set on proving most of the things that are terrible for us are fun, scientists from the University of Sydney followed more than 230,000 people aged 45 and older for 6 years. The team assembled a list of 6 ‘deadly sins’
Researcher Dr. Melody Ding, said:
“To examine specific patterns of lifestyle risk behaviors, 96 variables – representing all possible mutually exclusive combinations of smoking, high alcohol intake, physical inactivity, poor diet, prolonged sitting, and short/long sleep duration – were created Short and long sleep durations were separated as two different risk factors, as their associations with mortality may be explained by different mechanisms.
This analysis investigated four established and two [new] risk factors, namely, prolonged sitting and unhealthy sleep duration, which may be added to behavioral indices or risk combinations to quantify health risk.”
The ‘Deadly Sins’
Here are the 6 things that are most likely to pave way for an early tombstone if we indulge in them too often. They generally fall into the “No Duh” category.
- 1. Alcohol consumption
- 2. Poor diet
- 3. Inactivity
- 4. Smoking
- 5. Sitting for more than 7 hours a day
- 6. Sleeping for more than 9 hours
Based on the piece of research, if you’re someone who regularly does all 6 of these, you are more than 5 times more likely to kick the bucket from any cause during a 6-year period as someone who leads a healthy lifestyle.
We’ve known for decades that not getting enough sleep is a risk factor for all kinds of health problems and early death, so it might be a bit surprising to hear that sleeping too much is dangerous, too.
“Short and long sleep durations were separated as two different risk factors, as their associations with mortality may be explained by different mechanisms,” Ding explained.
“This analysis investigated four established and two [new] risk factors, namely, prolonged sitting and unhealthy sleep duration, which may be added to behavioral indices or risk combinations to quantify health risk.”
Earlier this year, University of Cambridge researchers warned that you’re twice as likely to have a stroke if you sleep for more than 9 hours. Women are especially susceptible. It was not clear, though, if these individuals are sleeping more because they’re already sick, or if the extra sleep itself increases that risk.
The scientists also said that sleeping-in when you normally don’t get enough sleep is unhealthy, and that having a regular sleep schedule is key.
And in October, scientists from the University of Cambridge said that people who spend 3-4 hours a day watching television are 15% more likely to pass from a common cause of death, compared to people who watch 1 hour of TV or less a day.
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Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.