How to Avoid the Biggest Health Risks

More Americans could escape an early death by replaying simple advice.

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To ensure you get the best care possible, find a provider you trust, shamelessly seek out second opinions, and bring an audio recorder to doctors' appointments where the information, in retrospect, can be hazy, advises Nancy Keating, associate professor of medicine and of healthcare policy at Harvard Medical School.

Finally, she urges everyone—even the healthiest—to imagine a future with chronic disease. "What are your goals? What do you value? What do you want out of life?" says Keating. "We don't talk about these things until it's too late."

[See: 6 Surprising Behaviors That Age You]

Updated on 6/8/2012: This story has been updated to reflect the most current prostate cancer screening recommendations. It has also been corrected to convey the most accurate physical activity recommendations: 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity five days a week.