Don't Worry . . . Be Happy!
Want to shorten your life and ruin you health fast? Get mad! Hostility and anger can shorten your life more than smoking, obesity, and a high fat diet! Read this excerpt from the article "If Anger Ruins Your Day, It Can Shrink Your Life" in the December 13, 1990 New York Times.
"People who often explode in hostile rages or who sit around fuming over every perceived slight may be doing more than making themselves unpleasant. They may be killing themselves. Researchers have gathered a wealth of data lately suggesting that chronic anger is so damaging to the body that it ranks with, or even exceeds, cigarette smoking, obesity and a high-fat diet as a powerful risk factor for early death. "Our studies indicate that hostile, suspicious anger is right up there with any other health hazard we know about," said Dr. Redford Williams, a researcher in behavioral medicine at the Duke University Medical Center. Anger and Cholesterol
In results presented at a recent meeting of the American Heart Association, Dr. Williams reported that people who scored high on a hostility scale as teen-agers were much more likely than their more cheerful peers to have elevated cholesterol levels as adults, suggesting a link between unremitting anger and heart disease. In another recent study, Dr. Mara Julius, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan, analyzed the effects of chronic anger on women over a period of 18 years. She found that women who had answered initial test questions with obvious signs of long-term, suppressed anger were three times more likely to have died than those who did not harbor such hostile feelings.
"For many women, constant suppressed anger seems to be a stronger risk factor for early mortality than smoking," said Dr. Julius, who announced her results at a recent meeting of the Gerontological Society of America.
Other researchers are teasing apart the complex welter of anger's physical effects on the body. They are finding that some people who are prone to anger have an overactive "fight or flight" response, generating excessive amounts of stress hormones when confronted by life's every bump. At the same time, such people have an underactive cool-down response, lacking sufficient hormones designed to counter the effects of stress. The findings suggest that some people may have an inborn predisposition to excessive anger, although scientists said that whether or not one gave in to rage may aggravate or diminish that inherited tendency.
Many researchers said anger-prone people could reduce the risk of early mortality by changing knee-jerk, hostile responses. The latest studies of anger stem from research in the 1960's on the Type A personality, which is exemplified by the hard-driving, competitive, perfectionist executive who was thought to have an unusually high risk of heart disease. But as researchers looked more closely, they realized that not all people with that personality type were in danger of heart disease, nor could all the traits associated with the type be statistically or experimentally linked to early death. For example, neither competitiveness nor an addiction to work could be shown to be physically harmful.
Instead, researchers began to see that the elements of the personality type most clearly linked to heart disease and other health disorders are hostility, suspiciousness, aggressiveness and a volatile temper."