Friday 10 May 2019 2:49 AM UTC
LONDON May 10: Anger may be more harmful to health in old age than sadness because it increases inflammation, according to new research.
Experts say loss of loved-ones and increased loneliness wreck havoc on elderly people’s health in ways that are under-appreciated.
But in a new study by Concordia University, researchers say anger is just as common, dangerous and ignored – despite fueling inflammation that exacerbates heart disease, arthritis and cancer.
‘As most people age, they simply cannot do the activities they once did, or they may experience the loss of a spouse or a decline in their physical mobility and they can become angry,’ said Meaghan A Barlow, MA, lead author of the study, which was published in Psychology and Aging.
Barlow and her co-authors examined whether anger and sadness contributed to inflammation, an immune response by the body to perceived threats, such as infection or tissue damage.
While inflammation in general helps protect the body and assists in healing, long-lasting inflammation can lead to chronic illnesses in old age, according to the authors.
The researchers collected and analyzed data from 226 older adults ages 59 to 93 from Montreal.
They grouped participants as being in early old age, 59 to 79 years old, or advanced old age, 80 years old and older.
Over one week, participants completed short questionnaires about how angry or sad they felt. The authors also measured inflammation from blood samples and asked participants if they had any age-related chronic illnesses.
‘We found that experiencing anger daily was related to higher levels of inflammation and chronic illness for people 80 years old and older, but not for younger seniors,’ said study co-author Carsten Wrosch, PhD, also of Concordia University. ‘Sadness, on the other hand, was not related to inflammation or chronic illness.’
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