OBJECTIVE: To examine how a healthy lifestyle is related to life expectancy that is free from major chronic diseases.
DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: The Nurses' Health Study (1980-2014; n=73 196) and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (1986-2014; n=38 366).
MAIN EXPOSURES: Five low risk lifestyle factors: never smoking, body mass index 18.5-24.9, moderate to vigorous physical activity (≥30 minutes/day), moderate alcohol intake (women: 5-15 g/day; men 5-30 g/day), and a higher diet quality score (upper 40%).
MAIN OUTCOME: Life expectancy free of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.
RESULTS: The life expectancy free of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer at age 50 was 23.7 years (95% confidence interval 22.6 to 24.7) for women who adopted no low risk lifestyle factors, in contrast to 34.4 years (33.1 to 35.5) for women who adopted four or five low risk factors. At age 50, the life expectancy free of any of these chronic diseases was 23.5 (22.3 to 24.7) years among men who adopted no low risk lifestyle factors and 31.1 (29.5 to 32.5) years in men who adopted four or five low risk lifestyle factors. For current male smokers who smoked heavily (≥15 cigarettes/day) or obese men and women (body mass index ≥30), their disease-free life expectancies accounted for the lowest proportion (≤75%) of total life expectancy at age 50.
CONCLUSION: Adherence to a healthy lifestyle at mid-life is associated with a longer life expectancy free of major chronic diseases.