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3 Suprisingly Harmful Habits That Can Shorten Your Life

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Chances are, you've heard all about the dangers of smoking cigarettes: An increased risk of cancer and emphysema, more wrinkles, stained teeth.... Not smoking should be a no-brainer. Many people, however, believe that partaking in hookah, water pipes often used to smoke flavored tobaccos, is safer than sucking on cigs, according to new findings from the University of South Florida. That's despite the fact that the health effects of a single 45-minute hookah session are on par with smoking 100 cigarettes, reports the World Health Organization. It may come as a surprise, then, that these three habits are as bad as (if not worse than) inhaling cancer sticks, too.

Watching TV
Smoking a single cigarette cuts your lifespan by just 11 minutes, researchers from the University of Queensland report. But every hour of TV you watch after age 25 reduces your life expectancy by 21.8 minutes! The main dangers of watching television seem to be linked to the fact that when you tune in you’re not doing much else—and sitting too much may increase your risk of certain cancers, as well as issues like heart disease.  

Eating Too Much Meat and Dairy
In a study published earlier this year in the journal Cell Metabolism, adults who consumed the highest level of protein were 74 percent more likely to die for any reason during an 18-year study, and four times more likely to die of cancer. Those risks are comparable to the ones experienced by cigarette smokers, say the study authors. But, while swapping some animal protein for plant-based sources like tofu and beans is a decent idea, take these findings with a grain of salt—the study had certain limitations (like not distinguishing between farm-raised and factory-farmed meats). (Try these 5 Ways to Become a Part-Time Vegetarian.)

Drinking Soda
When researchers looked at soda’s effect on telomeres—the “caps” at the end of chromosomes that protect against deterioration—they found that drinking an eight-ounce serving of the bubbly stuff daily can age your immune cells by almost two years. The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, also found drinking 20 ounces a day can age your telomeres by nearly five years—the same amount as smoking cigarettes. (Struggling to figure out How to Stop Drinking Soda? Read on.)

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