Monday, April 23, 2012

Dr. Lester Breslow ("Mr. Public Health") Who Famously Linked Healthy Behaviors To Long Life, Died. He Was 97.

A man who lived what he preached about healthy lifestyle passed away, according to the Dean of UCLA School of Public Health who publicized his death, "peacefully in the early hours of Monday, April 9."

Why is Lester Breslow known as "Mr. Public Health?" Because he was one of the first to document the relationship between healthy behaviors and physical health and longevity:

Relationship of Physical Health Status and Health Practices, Preventative Medicine, 1972

The New York Times says 3 of his studies from the 1950s on the harmful effects of smoking "were cited in the United States surgeon general’s landmark report in 1964 linking cigarettes to lung diseases, particularly cancer."

The same article said Breslow was still writing and publishing in 2010 when he was 95! A quick scan of PubMed reveals he was an active researcher until that time:

2008: Lifestyle and reduced mortality among active California Mormons, 1980-2004.
2007: Can health promotion programs save Medicare money?
2007: Health promotion in later life: it's never too late.
2007: Creating a robust public health infrastructure for physical activity promotion.
2006: Public health aspects of weight control.
2006: Health measurement in the third era of health.
2005: The organization of personal health services.
2005: Origins and development of the International Epidemiological Association.

That was just half of the first page! I'm tempted to think that research/writing/publishing should be included in Breslow's notable 7. But maybe if you adhere to his 7 healthy habits, it frees you to follow other ambitions.

Here are Breslow's 7 healthy habits from his 1972 study above:
  1. Don't smoke, at all.
  2. Drink only in moderation. "Those who “never drink” did not differ significantly from those who drank moderately."
  3. Sleep 7 to 8 hours, not more and not less.
  4. Be physically active, on a regular basis.
  5. Eat meals regularly. Don't eat between meals.
  6. Maintain a moderate weight. "Men with the best physical health were those less than 5% underweight up to 19.99% overweight; among women, those who were underweight or less than 10% overweight were slightly more healthy than the average."
  7. Eat breakfast.
The effect of these habits are additive:
"Of those with four or more good health habits, 12.2% were likely to be disabled 10 years after the study began; those with two or three, 14.1%; and those with only one or no positive health habits at all, 18.7%."
Notably, he found that a healthy lifestyle can counter the effects of aging:
"Dr. Breslow found that a 60-year-old who followed the seven recommended behaviors would be as healthy as a 30-year-old who followed fewer than three.
Which is evident from the study's graph. (The higher the ridit, the healthier. Example: a ridit of .60 means that 60% of the population ranks higher, has better physical health.):

Another thing evident from this graph is that young people, in their 20s, enjoy good health whether they follow healthy habits or not.

From the NYTs: "Dr. Breslow himself did not smoke or drink. He walked regularly, practiced moderation in all things and enjoyed tending his vegetable garden." There's that vegetable garden again.


Bix said...

So it looks like men can safely carry more weight than women.

Anonymous said...

Nah, gurlz need butts.