Mama always told you to eat right, exercise, lay off cigarettes and drink responsibly. But now there is proof that these really are the keys to longer life.

The Centers for Disease Control looked at health and mortality statistics of nearly 17,000 adults who were recruited into a study between 1988 and 1994, and followed until 2006.

Their conclusions: Those who followed all four healthy practices were 63% less likely to die early compared to those who did none of these things. Not smoking lowered the risk the most.

Of those in the study, 47.5% had never smoked, 51% drank moderately (defined as no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women), 39.3% had a healthy, balanced diet and 40.2% were physically active.

Although men and women lived low-risk lifestyles in about equal percentages, ethnically, there was a significant difference. Mexican-Americans reported more healthy behaviors than blacks or whites.

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Two separate, earlier CDC studies showed that Hispanics also have a lower death rate from cancer than either blacks or whites, and are less likely to suffer from hypertension.