New research suggests that finding effective ways to handle stress may be a matter of life or death for many older individuals. In a study involving 2,385 older adults, researchers looked at the number of major life stressors participants had experienced over a 15-year period, such as the death of a spouse, a major illness, or a change of residence. Mortality among study participants who had suffered only one or two significant stressors was comparable to mortality risk among those who had experienced no life stressors.
But participants who had suffered three significant life stressors experienced a 29 percent greater risk of mortality than participants with no life stressors, and participants who suffered more than three major stressors had a 51 percent higher mortality risk, according to research presented Sept. 26, 2013 at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes annual meeting. “Our hypothesis is that when psychosocial stress is chronic, people develop changes in their lifestyle which then lead to developing chronic metabolic diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease,” the lead author said. “And with these diseases, people have a higher risk of dying.”
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