Small Stressors May Reduce Longevity for Men

stress photo
Carolyn Aldwin’s research addresses the impacts of stress. (Illustration: Santiago Uceda)

Older men who lead high-stress lives, either from chronic everyday hassles or because of a series of significant life events, are likely to die earlier than the average for their peers.

“We’re looking at long-term patterns of stress — if your stress level is chronically high, it could impact your mortality, or if you have a series of stressful life events, that could affect your mortality,” says Carolyn Aldwin, director of the Center for Healthy Aging Research in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University.

Her study looked at two types of stress: the everyday hassles of such things as commuting, job stress or arguments with family and friends; and significant life events, such as job loss or the death of a spouse. (For more on the health effects of stress, see “The Stress Paradox,” Terra, winter 2010.)