Arguing and thinking about family issues can shorten your life and increase the risk of dying in middle age. This is the findings of a Danish research report. The greatest risk is in divergence of opinions in family which can often lead to heated arguments and take a heavy toll on your body. The research also notes that men at work are more prone to die due to conflicts in family.

Dr. Rikke Lund, an associate professor in the department of public health at the University of Copenhagen who is the lead researcher said, “Stressful social relations in private life are associated with a two- to three-times increased risk of dying. Worries and demands from partners and children, and conflicts in general, seem the most important risk factors,”

The findings were also true when chronic disease, depressive symptoms, sex, and marital status were taken into account. Men who do not belong to the working class are particularly susceptible to the exposure to stress from social relations

Simon Rego, Director of Psychology training at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City feels that social relations play a healthy role and at the same time can do much damage if it is not healthy. Social relations are more like a double edged sword and can be equally beneficial or damaging.

The report was published online May 8 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

The study includes data on nearly 10,000 men and women, aged 36 to 52 who were included in the Danish Longitudinal Study on Work, Unemployment and Health. The subjects of the study were asked about their daily social relationship which included their relation with their partners, children, relatives, friends, neighbors. They were also asked about who made excess demands, sources of conflicts and their frequency. The participants were also asked if having a job made any difference.

Data obtained from the Danish Cause of Death Registry was used to track the participants from 2000 to the end of 2011. During this period 196 women and 226 men died. 50% of the deaths were due to cancer while Heart disease and stroke, liver disease, accidents and suicide accounted for the other half.

One in ten participants said that their children were a source of worry and excess demand. 9% felt that their partners made excess demands and was a constant source of worry.6% had issues with their relatives and 2% had issues with friends. 6% of the subjects said that they often had differences with their spouse and children while 2% had conflicts with their relatives and 1% had problems with their friends or neighbors.

Taking all the above data into account, Lund’s team deduced that stress was linked 50% to 100% increased risk of death from any cause. Arguing was considered the most damaging form of stress.

Rego however was quick to point out the limitations of an observational study, such as this one. “As with all studies that employ observational designs, caution should be used when interpreting the results, as the design does not provide conclusive information about any cause-and-effect relationships,”


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