CHICAGO - Four common bad habits combined - smoking, drinking too much, inactivity and poor diet - can age you by 12 years, sobering new research suggests.

The findings are from a study that tracked nearly 5,000 British adults for 20 years.

Overall, 314 people studied had all four unhealthy behaviors. Among them, 91 died during the study. Among the 387 healthiest people with none of the four habits, only 32 died.

The risky behaviors were: smoking tobacco; downing more than three alcoholic drinks per day for men and more than two for women; getting less than two hours of physical activity per week; and eating fruits and vegetables fewer than three times daily.

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These habits combined substantially increased the risk of death and made people who engaged in them seem 12 years older than those in the healthiest group, said the lead researcher.

The study appeared in yesterday's Archives of Internal Medicine.