Dr. Wei Zheng and colleagues find a healthy lifestyle pattern for Chinese women included normal weight, low belly fat, regular physical activity, limited secondhand cigarette exposure, and a diet including fruits and vegetables.
Zheng and colleagues assigned one point for each of the five health factors and found higher scores associated with reduced risk of mortality from all causes, as well as from cardiovascular diseases and cancer, specifically. Women with scores of 4 to 5 had a 43 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality compared with women with a score of zero.
"The results show that overall lifestyle modification, to include a combination of these health-related lifestyle factors, is important in disease prevention," Zheng said in a statement
Zheng noted most of the factors could be improved and even in the more difficult to change factors, like spousal smoking, could be improved by increased awareness about the detrimental health effects of smoking. The researchers tracked 71,243 non-smoking, non-drinking Chinese women age 40-70 -- participating in the ongoing population-based Shanghai Women's Health Study for nine years.
The findings are published in the journal PloS Medicine.