Unhealthy lifestyles are damaging to the brain. Previous studies have indicated that body mass index (BMI), alcohol intake, short sleep, smoking, and lack of exercise are negatively associated with gray matter volume (GMV). Living alone has also been found to be related to GMV through lowered subjective happiness. However, to our knowledge, no GMV study has dealt with these unhealthy lifestyles simultaneously. By our analyses based on 142 healthy Japanese participants, BMI, alcohol intake, living alone, and short sleep were negatively associated with the gray-matter brain healthcare quotient (GM-BHQ), an MRI-based normalized GMV, after controlling for age, sex, and facility, not only individually but also when they were entered into a single regression model. Moreover, there were small but significant differences in the proportion of the variance for GM-BHQ explained by variables in a regression model (measured by R squared) between when these unhealthy variables were entered in an equation at the same time and when they were entered separately, with the former larger than the latter. However, smoking and lack of exercise were not significantly associated with GM-BHQ. Results indicate that some kinds of unhealthy lifestyles are somewhat harmful on their own, but may become more noxious to brain condition if practiced simultaneously, although its difference may not be large. To our knowledge, this study is the first to show that overlapping unhealthy lifestyles affects the brains of healthy adults.
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