Thoughts on Better Aging

Higher Stress Leads to Shorter Lives

November 26th, 2014

Research suggests one’s reaction to stressors affects longevity more than the number of stressful events.

New research from the Center for Healthy Aging Research at Oregon State University suggests that older men who lead high-stress lives are likely to lead shorter lives than their peers.

While the detrimental effect of stress on virtually all systems in the body has been known for years, what is interesting about this study is that it considers two different types of stress, chronic stress and stress from major life events.

Using data from the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study, the researchers looked at the case histories of 1,293 men who reported everyday hassles like traffic, family discord, and work stress and/or significant stressful events like losing a job or a spouse between 1989 and 2005. The researchers continued to follow the men until 2010. By this time, 43 percent of study participants had passed away.

In their findings published in the journal Experimental Gerontology, the researchers reported that the men who reported few daily hassles had the lowest mortality rate at 28.7 percent. Men reporting a high number of daily hassles had a much higher mortality rate of 64 percent.

In a separate analysis of the impact of major losses and other stressful life events, the researchers found that while the mortality rate was about 33 percent for men experiencing a low number of stressful events, the rate was closer to 50 percent for those who reported a moderate or high number of stressful events.

Now, a stressful event is hard to define. For example, the daily traffic that stresses one man may simply roll off another’s back. This is why the lead author of the study ware careful to point out that “It’s not the number of hassles that does you in, it’s the perception of them being a big deal that causes problems. Taking things in stride may protect you.”

Why is Stress so Harmful?

The main reason stress is so harmful to health and longevity is that when you perceive an event as stressful, the brain releases cortisol, which tells the body to release adrenalin. While a little cortisol is healthy, too much can cause:

  • Accelerated aging of the skin
  • Increased risk of damage to neurons leading to Alzheimer’s or dementia
  • Reduced ability to retain vital nutrients in the body’s cells
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Reduced bone formation
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Compromised immune system
  • Weight gain

You Can Start Fighting Stress Now

The good news is that you can fight back about stress to protect your health and your longevity. At Renew Man™, we can provide a variety of types of assistance in this area, ranging from supplements and hormone balancing treatments to basic stress management techniques. Please contact us today to learn more.

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