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Older Internet users more likely to live a healthy lifestyle

October 24, 2013

More adults 65 and older are using the Internet than ever before, and a new study suggests those who are connected are also more likely to enjoy the benefits of healthy senior living. Researchers from the University College London found that Internet users tend to practice more health-conscious behaviors, such as undergoing cancer screenings, eating a nutritious diet and participating in physical activity, according to results published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

Researchers relied on data from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, which collected information on men and women aged 50 and older. The team found that regular internet users were approximately twice as likely to undergo colorectal cancer screenings than nonusers. Furthermore, they were 50 percent more likely to engage in regular physical activity and about 44 percent less likely to be smokers. 

"We accounted for sociodemographic factors that influence Internet use and various measures of physical capabilities and cognitive function that decline with age, and still found an association between Internet use and cancer-preventive behaviors," said researcher Dr. Christian von Wagner. "The interesting aspect here is a dose-response relationship between Internet use and cancer preventive-behaviors: Intermittent users were more likely to have cancer-preventive behaviors than never-users, and consistent users were more likely to have cancer-preventive behaviors than intermittent users."

This is not the first time that researchers have found Internet users to be more likely to live a healthy life. In fact, a Pew Internet study shed light on how seniors use the Internet to better their well-being. Specifically about 30 percent of adults 65 and older go online to search for health information.