ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – Researchers have learned that smoking cigarettes could take as much as five hours off a person’s life expectancy – per day.
The study, which endeavored to find an alternate way to measure the adverse effects of risky habits, was published recently in the British Medical Journal and is reportedly the first to estimate the daily risk of smoking, according to US News & World Report.
The team of British researchers told the website that they created a new unit of measure, which they referred to as a “microlife,” for the sake of explaining their findings.
A microlife is equal to 30 minutes of life expectancy.
“Smoking works out at about 10 microlives for every 20 cigarettes smoked, around 15 minutes per cigarette,” the online version of their published findings stated.
Using data collected in other smoking studies, researchers – including David Spiegelhalter, a British statistician – were able to surmise that smokers are essentially “living 29 hours a day.”
“It’s accelerated aging,” Spiegelhalter told US News & World Report. “It’s a bit of a metaphor — you’re getting older quicker rather than living just a bit less.”
The news could impact almost a fifth of people above the age of 18 in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, an estimated 45.3 million adults smoke cigarettes – the equivalent of 19.3 percent of the adult American population, it stated on their official website.
Researchers additionally asserted that eating three ounces of red meat could subtract 30 minutes of life from a person. Binge drinking also comes with negative effects on a person’s overall length of life.
There is hope, however – positive habits such as healthy eating and exercise have the potential to add microlives back to one’s overall life expectancy. In fact, just 20 minutes of exercise could reportedly tack on a whole hour of life, according to the magazine.
Spiegelhalter explained, “The whole idea is to make a comparison about healthy activities and bad activities.”