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Risk Factors of Lifestyle Diseases

Discover if you are at risk of disease such as cancer, diabetes and heart attack.

It is obvious that none of us want to fall victim to an early death. While nobody could logically disagree with that statement, it is amazing to consider just how many of us might be failing to take simple measures to help avoid it. Whether it be from a poor diet, lack of exercise, or regular abuse of the body, you may be setting yourself up for a much shorter or less enjoyable life than that which could be possible with a few simple changes.

What are lifestyle diseases?

Lifestyle diseases are those which are brought about primarily because of poor lifestyle decisions. These diseases are most commonly caused, not surprisingly, by the abuse of alcohol, drugs, and smoking. Abuse of the body by these most common causes plays a huge role in the prevalence of lifestyle diseases, but a lack of exercise and unhealthy eating are also factors which play a massive role.

Some of the most common lifestyle diseases are heart disease, obesity, and Type II diabetes. Other incredibly common diseases that can be released to lifestyle, include cancer, stroke, depression, and arthritis. A harsh fact of reality is that four medical events – heart attack, stroke, cancer, and coronary artery bypass surgery – generally account for over 90% of all Trauma Insurance claims. Read more about Trauma Insurance and how it compares to Health Insurance here.


When you consider just how big a killer cancer is, it is amazing to learn that 22% of cancer deaths are caused by tobacco use. That such an easily preventable habit results in so many deaths is really a human tragedy.

Increasingly, obesity also plays more and more of a role in cancer deaths. It is estimated that a further 10% of cancer-related deaths are caused by obesity, poor diet, lack of physical activity, or the excessive drinking of alcohol.

Healthy lifestyle changes could play a huge role in the reduction of cancer deaths all over the world.


Diabetes, and particularly type II diabetes, is a lifestyle disease that affects millions of people. Again, in many cases, this is a disease that can be prevented with a few simple lifestyle decisions.

The question –  how does lifestyle influence health?  –  is a pretty easy one to answer when you understand just how simple it is for the risk of diabetes to be reduced.

Exercising, losing weight and keeping it off, not smoking, and just taking the time out to eat healthier, are all lifestyle choices that can be easily changed and could have a huge impact on the prevention of diabetes.

Heart attack and heart disease

Heart attack prevention is something that most older readers will probably have some knowledge of, but thoughts on how to avoid a heart attack should be at the forefront of the minds of younger adults too. This is particularly true as it is the build up of years of poor lifestyle choices that help to increase the risk of heart attacks later in life.

Steps to help in heart disease prevention are something that can be tackled immediately. As with the two lifestyle diseases already looked at, controllable risk factors for heart disease include quitting smoking and starting to lead a more active lifestyle. These are two significant factors on how to reduce the risk of heart disease. Following a healthy diet also plays a big role in heart disease prevention. Other lifestyle changes for cardiovascular disease prevention include keeping a healthy weight and not abusing alcohol.

How can lifestyle choices influence your health?

As outlined above, positive changes in your lifestyle choices can reduce your risk of falling victim to a lifestyle disease. The truth is, however, that while more and more people are making more healthy lifestyle choices, not everybody is making the right choice, or perhaps doing enough. One good habit is great, but it doesn’t mean that any of your other bad habits will suddenly be counterbalanced.

It takes time and a lot of determination to really change your lifestyle for the better, but the benefits it reaps in the long-term are more than worth the discomfort you may feel at the outset.

Eating a balanced diet

If you are able to start eating a healthy, balanced diet, you will be well on your way to reducing the risk of lifestyle diseases.

A balanced diet is one that consists of low-fat and high-fibre foods. This should definitely include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. We all know the “5 a day” principle, but how many people really follow it?

It is also important for the amount of salt in your diet to be reduced. As a guide, you should eat no more than 6 grams of salt per day. That is the equivalent of about one teaspoonful.

In terms of fat, there are two types that you should be familiar with: saturated and unsaturated. Where possible, you should avoid food that includes saturated fats as these can significantly increase the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood.

Doing physical activity

As mentioned above, it is important to combine positive lifestyle changes so that one good habit is not being made redundant by other bad ones.

In line with a balanced diet, you should also try to incorporate some regular exercise into your daily routine. Being of a healthy weight will help reduce your chances of developing high blood pressure, and regular exercise makes your whole circulatory system more efficient.

Regular exercise will also play a big part in lowering your cholesterol level and keeping your blood pressure at a much healthier level.

Other changes you can make in your life

Aside from a healthy diet and more exercise, eliminating drugs, alcohol, or smoking is important. You can start a new regime with a better diet and more exercise with all of the good will in the world but if you continue to abuse your body at the same time, chances are that all the good work will be wasted.

Lifestyle impact on Life Insurance premiums

Some of the most common lifestyle choices that will impact on your Life Insurance premiums are those that we have already looked at here.

Obesity is a big problem as it can increase the chances of many lifestyle diseases. People considered obese may well incur higher premiums than those who are deemed to be in better physical shape.

Smoking and drinking will also impact negatively on the cost of Life Insurance. Abusers of tobacco or alcohol are very likely to be faced with higher premiums than those who live healthier.

Questions asked during a Life Insurance application

When applying to take out a Life Insurance policy, it is quite common for you to be asked questions of the following kind.

  • What is your height and your weight?
  • Do you have any medical conditions?
  • Do you take any prescriptions?
  • Do you participate in any dangerous activities?
  • Do you have a family history of stroke, cancer, or heart disease?
  • Do you take non-prescribed drugs?
  • How much do you drink alcohol?

Of course, these questions all need to be answered honestly when applying for insurance cover because a claim may be rejected or reduced if you have not been truthful in your disclosure at the application stage. If you feel that your answers could negatively impact your premiums in any way, now is the time to make the necessary lifestyle changes that will benefit your long-term chances of avoiding illness and disease, and reduce your monthly premiums at the same time.