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Unhealthy habits cost Canadians six years of life

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Staff Writer |
Life expectancies   For men, smoking is the top risk factor

Unhealthy habits are costing Canadians an estimated six years of life, according to a study published in PLOS Medicine.

Researchers found that smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity, and unhealthy alcohol consumption contribute to about 50 percent of deaths in Canada.

"Unhealthy behaviours place a major burden on Canadian life expectancies," said lead author Dr. Doug Manuel, senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and professor at The University of Ottawa, and a senior core scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

Dr. Manuel and his team created an algorithm to analyze data from ICES and the Statistics Canada 2009-2010 Canadian Community Health Survey.

The study found:

- 26 per cent of all deaths are attributable to smoking
- 24 per cent of all deaths are attributable to physical inactivity
- 12 per cent of all deaths are attributable to poor diet
- 0.4 per cent of all deaths are attributable to unhealthy alcohol consumption

For men, smoking was the top risk factor, representing a loss of 3.1 years. For women it was lack of physical activity, representing a loss of 3 years.

The researchers also found that Canadians who followed recommended healthy behaviours had a life expectancy 17.9 years greater than individuals with the unhealthiest behaviours.

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