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Doctors Warn Doing These 5 Things Can Damage Your Health

Don’t let bad habits ruin your health.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Are bad habits undermining your health and happiness? "Our behaviors don't just impact our physical health, they affect our mental well-being, too," says psychologist William Orme, PhD. "This is most readily apparent with habits that are unhealthy for us, but even habits that we think of as healthy can sometimes have adverse psychological implications under certain conditions." Here are five things that can cause serious damage, according to doctors. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Not Prioritizing Sleep

bad sleep

Chronic sleep deprivation can be devastating for your health, experts warn. "Human beings are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent gain," says Matthew Walker, PhD, director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley. "Many people walk through their lives in an underslept state, not realizing it… Every disease that is killing us in developed nations has causal and significant links to a lack of sleep. So that classic maxim that you may [have] heard that you can sleep when you're dead, it's actually mortally unwise advice from a very serious standpoint."


Abdominal Fat

shred belly fat

Letting belly fat get out of control can negatively impact many aspects of health and wellness. "Belly fat is the most dangerous kind of fat because it develops in the abdominal region and can surround internal organs," says James de Lemos, MD. "Research at UT Southwestern… has shown that this kind of fat puts people at greater risk for developing several kinds of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, liver problems, some types of cancer, and risk for sudden death."


Your Desk Job Is Hurting Your Health

woman puts hands on head, stressed, busy at work

Sitting all day is terrible for your health, doctors warn. "Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns," says Edward R. Laskowski, MD. "They include obesity and a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and unhealthy cholesterol levels — that make up metabolic syndrome. Too much sitting overall and prolonged periods of sitting also seem to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Any extended sitting — such as at a desk, behind a wheel or in front of a screen — can be harmful."


Drinking Too Much Alcohol

Sad woman drinking wine at kitchen.

Drinking too much alcohol is a leading cause of mortality in the US, according to health officials. "We have seen a significant growth in the number of people needing evaluation for liver transplants—at least here in our facility because our team does those evaluations," says Alёna A. Balasanova, MD, director of addiction psychiatry education and co-director of the addiction psychiatry consultation-liaison service at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. "You can absolutely develop liver disease and eventually end stage liver disease such that you need a transplant. Alcohol-related liver disease is a leading cause of a need for transplant. [Drinking large amounts] can also impact your heart. You can get cardiomyopathy and increased blood pressure, which then, of course, can increase your risk for having strokes."



no smoking sign

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the US, according to the CDC. "Smoking cigarettes contributes to almost 1 in 5 deaths," says Wynne Armand, MD. "The top three smoking-related causes of death are cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In addition to these 'top three,' smoking is also linked to a number of other cancers, an increased likelihood of getting more colds and infections, diabetes, osteoporosis and hip fractures, problems in pregnancy, difficulty with erections, stomach ulcers, gum disease, and the list goes on. Quitting smoking can add years to your life. Though the earlier the better, it's never too late to quit. The benefits of quitting are real, even at the age of 80!"

"Most smokers try three times before successfully quitting," says pulmonologist Humberto Choi, MD. "Don't give up. Even if you've been a lifelong smoker, it is never too late to quit."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan
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