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Relax guys, the stress will kill you

by Dale Kiefer 21 Oct 2011
Relax guys, the stress will kill you

Stressed man via Shutterstock

A new study finds that persistent moderate stress over a number of years takes a heavy toll on a man's life expectancy. The new study, published in the Journal of Aging, concluded that men who experience moderate to high-level stressful life events repeatedly are 50% more likely to die than their chilled-out peers. But don't let it stress you out: Being married, having self-reported good health and drinking moderately were all factors that helped reduce the increased risk of early mortality among study participants. Although it may seem counterintuitive, being a teetotaler was associated with a higher risk of early death. Of course, smoking was also an independent risk factor for higher mortality in middle-aged men.

The study looked at data gathered from middle-aged, middle-class men for nearly two decades. Chief author, Carolyn Aldwin, noted that the study examined the effects of stressful life events that tend to occur later in life. While smoking and a relentless series of stressful events were both associated with a significantly higher risk of death, factors that help counteract stress helped reduce risk. "...Perhaps trying to keep your major stress events to a minimum, being married and having a glass of wine every night is the secret to a long life," said Aldwin.

Men in the study were grouped according to the number of stressful life events they experienced in a single year. Those who endured two or fewer were assigned to a low-stress group; in contrast, men who experienced up to six such events were assigned to the highest-stress group. Surprisingly, men in both the moderate (about three stressful events in a year) and high-stress groups experienced about the same decrease in life expectancy.

Relax guys, the stress will kill you

Stressed man with the world on his shoulders via Shutterstock

"People are hardy, and they can deal with a few major stress events each year," Aldwin said. "But our research suggests that long-term, even moderate stress can have lethal effects." The study's findings are in agreement with other studies that have shown that men who consume two units of alcohol per day (providing alcoholism is not an issue) may experience a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.


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