Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

High to moderate levels of stress lead to higher mortality rate

Date:
October 21, 2011
Source:
Oregon State University
Summary:
A new study concludes that men who experience persistently moderate or high levels of stressful life events over a number of years have a 50 percent higher mortality rate. In general, the researchers found only a few protective factors against these higher levels of stress -- people who self-reported that they had good health tended to live longer and married men also fared better. Moderate drinkers also lived longer than non-drinkers.

A new study concludes that men who experience persistently moderate or high levels of stressful life events over a number of years have a 50 percent higher mortality rate.

In general, the researchers found only a few protective factors against these higher levels of stress -- people who self-reported that they had good health tended to live longer and married men also fared better. Moderate drinkers also lived longer than non-drinkers.

"Being a teetotaler and a smoker were risk factors for mortality," said Carolyn Aldwin, lead author of the study and a professor of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University. "So 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."

This is the first study to show a direct link between stress trajectories and mortality in an aging population. Unlike previous studies that were conducted in a relatively short term with smaller sample sizes, this study was modified to document major stressors -- such as death of a spouse or a putting a parent into a retirement home -- that specifically affect middle-aged and older people.

"Most studies look at typical stress events that are geared at younger people, such as graduation, losing a job, having your first child," Aldwin said. "I modified the stress measure to reflect the kinds of stress that we know impacts us more as we age, and even we were surprised at how strong the correlation between stress trajectories and mortality was."

Aldwin said that previous studies examined stress only at one time point, while this study documented patterns of stress over a number of years.

The study, out now in the Journal of Aging Research, used longitudinal data surveying almost 1,000 middle-class and working-class men for an 18-year period, from 1985 to 2003. All the men in the study were picked because they had good health when they first signed up to be part of the Boston VA Normative Aging Study in the 1960s.

Those in the low-stress group experienced an average of two or fewer major life events in a year, compared with an average of three for the moderate group and up to six for the high stress group. One of the study's most surprising findings was that the mortality risk was similar for the moderate versus high stress group.

"It seems there is a threshold and perhaps with anything more than two major life events a year and people just max out," Aldwin said. "We were surprised the effect was not linear and that the moderate group had a similar risk of death to the high-risk group."

While this study looked specifically at major life events and stress trajectories, Aldwin said the research group will next explore chronic daily stress as well as coping strategies.

"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."

Michael Levenson, Heidi Igarashi, Nuoo-Ting Molitor and John Molitor with Oregon State University and Avron Spiro III with Boston University all contributed to this study, which was funded by the National Institute on Aging as well as an award from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Oregon State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Carolyn M. Aldwin, Nuoo-Ting Molitor, Avron Spiro, Michael R. Levenson, John Molitor, Heidi Igarashi. Do Stress Trajectories Predict Mortality in Older Men? Longitudinal Findings from the VA Normative Aging Study. Journal of Aging Research, 2011; 2011: 1 DOI: 10.4061/2011/896109

Cite This Page:

Oregon State University. "High to moderate levels of stress lead to higher mortality rate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020122441.htm>.
Oregon State University. (2011, October 21). High to moderate levels of stress lead to higher mortality rate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020122441.htm
Oregon State University. "High to moderate levels of stress lead to higher mortality rate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020122441.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) Yale researchers tested 135 men and women, and it was only obese women who were deemed to have "impaired associative learning." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) A new study suggests that mixing alcohol with energy drinks makes you want to keep the party going. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

AP (July 18, 2014) Following the nationwide trend of eased restrictions on marijuana use, pot edibles are growing in popularity. One Boston-area cooking class is teaching people how to eat pot responsibly. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Understanding D.C.'s New Pot Laws

Understanding D.C.'s New Pot Laws

Newsy (July 17, 2014) Washington D.C.'s new laws decriminalizing small amount of marijuana went into effect Thursday. Here's how they work. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins