In this way, stress and lifestyle significantly influence life expectancy

In this way, stress and lifestyle significantly influence life expectancy

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How stress affects our life expectancy

Our life expectancy is affected by many different factors. Some factors related to our quality of life have a particularly strong impact. Smoking, diabetes, stress, and lack of exercise were among the biggest causes of shortened life expectancy.

The latest study by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare found that risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, stress and lack of physical activity reduce human life expectancy significantly. The results of the study were published in the English language journal "BMJ Open".

Quality of life factors affect life expectancy

Our life expectancy is not only influenced by the traditional risk factors associated with lifestyle. Factors that affect people's quality of life also reduce how long we live.

Biggest causes of a shortened life expectancy

During the investigation, the researchers found that the biggest causes of a shortened life expectancy in 30-year-old men are smoking and diabetes. Smoking reduced life expectancy by 6.6 years and diabetes reduced life expectancy by 6.5 years. But even strong stress has a major impact on our life expectancy and shortens it by 2.8 years. In addition, the results show that lack of exercise reduces the life expectancy of 30-year-old men by 2.4 years.

Factors reducing life expectancy also applied to women

But not only men experienced the negative effects on their life expectancy, women were also affected. In 30-year-old women, smoking reduced life expectancy by 5.5 years, diabetes by 5.3 years and severe stress by 2.3 years.

Effects do not only affect young adults

The negative effects on life expectancy did not only affect younger adults. Older people were also affected. For these, the reduction in life expectancy was similar, albeit a little less than in younger age groups.

How can we increase our life expectancy?

Fortunately, there are also some factors that have a positive impact on life expectancy. One of them is our diet. For example, eating fruit has been associated with a 1.4 year increase in life expectancy, and eating vegetable has increased life expectancy by 0.9 year.

Where did the evaluated data come from?

The study was based on data collected through questionnaires and measurements as part of the Finnish National FINRISK Study 1987-2007 in men and women aged 25 to 74 years. The mortality rate of the participants was monitored until the end of 2014.

Weaknesses of previous investigations

“Until now, life expectancy has generally only been assessed on the basis of a few groups with a few socio-demographic background factors such as age, gender and education. In this study, we wanted to assess the impact of several different factors on a person's life expectancy so that we could compare their effects, ”says study author Tommi Härkänen of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare in a press release.

How does the level of education affect life expectancy?

In the current study, the differences in life expectancy for people with different levels of education were fairly small when the other values ​​of risk factors were the same. However, previous studies have found large differences in the life expectancy of groups of people with different levels of education.

People should be helped to achieve a healthier lifestyle

Harmful lifestyle choices that increase mortality, such as smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise, are most common in those groups with the weakest social status. Life expectancy for the general population could be significantly improved by helping people with lower levels of education to make better choices about their lifestyle. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Tommi Härkänen, Kari Kuulasmaa, Laura Sares-Jäske, Pekka Jousilahti, Markku Peltonen et al .: Estimating expected life-years and risk factor associations with mortality in Finland: cohort study, in BMJ Open (Published Volume 10, Issue 3), BMJ Open
  • Heavy stress and lifestyle can predict how long we live, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (Published 03/11/2020), Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare

Video: The Art of Aging Well (August 2022).