Researchers analyzing findings over a 17-year period in the UK’s landmark Whitehall II Study found that some very basic bad habits consistently exhibited in middle age led to cumulative negative effects on thinking ability and memory later in life. The health behaviors of over 5,000 men and women were assessed for four unhealthy behaviors: smoking, low physical activity, low fruit and vegetableconsumption and no alcohol consumption (in contrast to the potentially healthful enjoyment of 1 to 14 drinks per week). Compared with those with no unhealthy behaviors, people with3 to 4 unhealthy behaviors, practiced over the span of the study, were almost three times more likely to have poor thinking skills and twice as likely to have memory loss. According to the authors, whose research appeared in the August 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, this study suggests that both the number of unhealthy behaviorsand their duration are associated with subsequent cognitivefunction in later life.
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