Constant arguing 'increases premature death risk'

 
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Having frequent arguments with partners, friends or relatives can increase the risk of death in middle-age, say Danish researchers.

Writing in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, they said men and those not in work were most vulnerable.

Dealing with worries and demands from close family was also linked to a higher mortality risk, the study said.

An individual's personality and ability to deal with stress is likely to play a role in the findings.

Start Quote

Intervening in conflicts, particularly for those out of work, may help to curb premature deaths associated with social relationship stressors.”

End Quote Dr Rikke Lund University of Copenhagen

Although the research team, from the University of Copenhagen, calculated that constant arguing increased a man or woman's mortality risk by two or three times the normal rate, they could not fully explain the factors behind it.

Previous research suggests people with high levels of anxiety and demands from partners and children, and those who often argue with close family members, could be at a higher risk of heart disease and strokes.

Past studies also suggest that a good social support network and a wide network of friends have a positive impact on health, while personality determines, to a large extent, how we perceive and react to social situations and relations.

In this study, the researchers said physiological reactions to stress, such as high blood pressure and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, were most likely to explain the increased mortality risk.

The study said: "Men respond to stressors with increased levels of cortisol, which may increase their risk of adverse health outcomes."

Out of work

Data on 9,875 men and women aged between 36 and 52 was used to explore the relationship between stressful social relations and premature death.

Man arguing on his mobile phone Men who were unemployed were found to be particularly vulnerable to the effects of conflict in their lives

They had all taken part in the Danish Longitudinal Study on Work, Unemployment and Health, from 2000.

The study found that frequent worries or demands generated by partners and children were linked to a 50%-100% increased risk of death from all causes.

Being out of work seemed to increase the negative impact of stressful social relationships. Those who were unemployed were at significantly greater risk of death from any cause than those who had a job, the study said.

Men seemed to be particularly vulnerable to the worries and demands generated by their female partners, with a higher risk of death than that normally associated with being a man.

Dr Rikke Lund, from the University of Copenhagen's department of public health, said worries and arguments were part of life.

But she added that people who were always or often involved in conflicts were at greatest risk, and could be helped.

"Intervening in conflicts, particularly for those out of work, may help to curb premature deaths associated with social relationship stressors," she said.

Prof Angela Clow, from the department of psychology and physiology at the University of Westminster, said the findings were "not surprising".

"It would have been more interesting if they had looked at the biological pathways and shown why or how conflicts had an effect on mortality risk," she said.

 

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 82.

    Having frequent arguments with partners, friends or relatives can increase the risk of death in middle-age if you cannot cope with the stress; but what if you had an unstable childhood with lots of arguments and built up your strength in arguing so that arguing doesn’t become as stressful? I have but I am not going to argue about that.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 56.

    The hormone, Cortisol, is released as part of the stress response. Cortisol redirects energy to the muscles to prepare for the fight or flight response. And it does this my redirecting it away from such things as the immune system and our body's essential natural maintenance and repair functions; the things that keep us ticking over with biological health.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 15.

    Actually it isn't obvious that ' those who often argue with close family members, could be at a higher risk of heart disease and strokes.'

    'Common Sense' might have predicted that those who bottle things up were more at risk.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 11.

    Any negative stress is bad for our health, whatever the cause. The only way to dissipate the stress hormones is with daily cardiovascular exercise to give the body it's natural "fight or flight".

 
 

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