Indulging Yourself Cuts Hours off Your Life

Your habit of a lifetime could have more of an effect on your life’s time than you might think. Research has shown that indulging your vices not only does harm to your wellness presently, but future damage too as it shaves hours off your life.


Professor David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at the University of Cambridge conducted the study in order to help people understand how the way they behave, such as smoking, eating red meat and even watching television, can affect their life expectancy.


Spiegelhalter gathered and analysed data from population studies and found that, if ‘averaged over a lifetime habit’ you can lose half an hour of your life by being 5kg overweight, smoking two cigarettes, eating a burger, having 2 or 3 alcoholic drinks or watching 2 hours of TV. You can add two hours to your life each day, on the other hand, if you have no more than one alcoholic beverage a day, you exercise, take statins or have a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.


Spiegelhalter referred to half hours of expected life length as ‘microlives’ and recommended using this as a notion to encourage people to change their habits and improve their wellbeing. However, the professor found that some microlives are out of your control. A woman has 4 more mircolives than a man per day, and being a Swedish male rather than a Russian male adds 21 a day. Also, being in alive in 2010 instead of 1910 has a positive difference of 15 microlives a day.
This simple explanation of how your habits shape your length of life helps you to compare the levels of persistent risks. Spiegelhalter said this concept is based on the ‘speed of aging’ metaphor that has been successfully used to help smokers to quit. ‘So each day of smoking 20 cigarettes (10 microlives) is as if you are rushing towards your death at 29 hours rather than 24,’ he explained.

He allowed that the study had many limitations and his evaluations come from several suppositions and estimations. However, he concluded ‘Of course, evaluation studies would be needed to quantify any effect on behaviour, but one does not need a study to conclude that people do not generally like the idea of getting older faster.’

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