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Unhealthy Lifestyle Boosts Stroke Risk

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The risk of stroke is more than doubled by an unhealthy lifestyle that includes smoking, drinking too much alcohol, lack of exercise, and poor eating habits, according to a British study that included 20,000 adults, ages 40 to 79.

The participants were given one point for each of the following healthy habits: not smoking, limiting alcohol consumption to one to 14 units per week, consuming five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and being physically active. More women than men achieved the maximum four points, BBC News reported.

Participants who scored zero points were 2.3 times more likely to have a stroke in the 11 years of follow-up than those who scored four points. For every point decrease in participants' scores, there was an increased risk of stroke, according to the study, published in the British Medical Journal.

Fifteen (5.8 percent) of the 259 people who didn't score any points suffered a stroke, compared to 186 (2.4 percent) of the 7,822 who achieved a score of three, and 1.7 percent of the 5,000 who had a score of four, BBC News reported.

"Together with the substantial existing body of evidence about modifiable behaviors and stroke risk, this may provide further encouragement to make entirely feasible changes which have the potential to have a major impact on stroke," said study leader Dr. Phyo Myint of the University of East Anglia.

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