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Marriage and a nightly glass of wine could help men live longer

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Chronic stress can be lethal, especially for men.

Chronic stress can lead to earlier death, especially for men. Multiple studies have shown stress can lead to poor health. Now researchers say ir can be lethal, raising the chances of dying 50 percent; especially for men.

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

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.” For their analysis, the researchers looked at 1,000 middle-class and working-class men over an 18 year span - from1985 to 2003. The men were part of the Boston VA Normative Aging Study in the 1960s. All were in good health when they signed up.

When the investigators looked at lifespan related to stress, they found having three to six adverse life events– even those that were moderately as opposed to highly stressful – increased the chances of dying.

Aldwin says we might have a "threshold" of how much stress we can handle. Maybe more than two major life events a year causes us to "max out," she said.

The study, published in the Journal of Aging Research, is the first to measure the impact of stress from major life events in middle age 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.

In the current study, Aldwin and her team looked at stress over a period of time, which included caretaking, institutionalizing a spouse and children’s problems, such as divorce.

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Aldwin specifically looked at the types of events that cause stress with aging, finding a strong correlation with chances of dying.

The study revealed even moderate chronic stress can increase the chances of dying earlier. The authors plan more studies that focus on coping strategies. They will continue to follow the men in the study.

Aldwin said moderate drinking and being married were both found to protect from the lethal effect of stress.

She also explains it’s important to regulate stressful emotions by talking to people and making a plan of action to alleviate the effects of stress.

More importantly, it’s how stress is perceived that is important. She says older people are usually able to put things into perspective.

Past studies have shown unmarried men are likely to die a decade sooner than their married counterparts.

Marriage and a glass of wine each night just might help men live longer, found in the study. Aldwin said how we perceive problem in our life may be important for living longer. For men especially, chronic stress can lead to an earlier death.


This page updated May 9, 2013