Thursday, October 20, 2011

People with high stress levels die younger

A long-term population study has revealed that stress, in moderate or high levels, is a risk factor for mortality rate. Scientists followed almost a thousand healthy people starting in 1985, and found that the group that experienced moderate to high numbers of stressful events in their lives had a 50 percent higher mortality rate, which is measured as the number of deaths, corrected for the population size, per year. This means that someone with moderate or high stress levels is 50 percent more likely to die than someone without stress. The participants were examined for about 18 years in total, before the researchers concluded their study.

Stress levels were determined by quantifying the number of stressful events per year. People who had up to two stressful events per year were put in the low stress group, while three events and four to six events where qualified as moderate and high stress levels, respectively. Not only negative stress was measured: 'positive' stress events such as graduation or getting a child (all participants were men) were also included.

It is peculiar that mortality rate is equal between moderate and high stress levels. Therefore, it seems that there is a threshold, after which factors leading to increased mortality rate come in to play. The scientists also found participants reporting that their health is good live longer. In addition, marriage was associated with lower mortality, and even being a moderate drinker showed a positive effect.

In their study, the scientists qualified people based on the number of stressful events. While the relationship with mortality seems to be well-established, it remains unknown what the impact on mortality rate is in people that suffer from chronic stress. They reveal no data on this pathological form of stress.

I guess this gives people an excuse to put less effort in their job, or study.

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