And contrary to what you might expect, there’s currently no evidence that stress – on its own at least – can cause a heart attack or even heart disease either. Though it might lead you to bad habits (smoking, drinking, or a poor diet) which will.
But what if you include deaths from insidious illnesses such as cancer? It’s commonly thought that stress is lethal, but last year a team of Oxford University scientists decided to take a closer look. The so-called Million Women Study tracked the health of around 700,000 women for nearly a decade. In that time, 48,314 died.
When they analysed the data, the researchers found that women who rated themselves as more stressed and less happy, healthy and in control were more likely to die. But they were also less healthy to begin with – they were stressed because they were sick. When they factored this in, along with risky behaviours such as smoking, the link vanished. Stress and unhappiness had no correlation with the risk of death.
It looks like even a really, really stressful day, month, or year in the office isn’t going to send an otherwise healthy person to an early grave.