Argumentative people twice as likely to die in middle age, study shows

Health Reporter

If you find that you are always arguing with your spouse, your friends or even your neighbours, now may be the time to bury the hatchet.

Scientists in Denmark say they have evidence that those who often argue with the people close to them have double, or even treble, the chance of dying in middle age.

In a study of nearly 10,000 men and women aged between 36 and 52, researchers found that those who said they argued "always or often" with anyone in their social circle were up to three times more likely to die of any cause during the nine-year study period.

Of the study group, 196 women and 226 men died; half of them from cancer and others from heart disease, liver disease and suicide.

It was not clear whether the arguments were a cause or a symptom of the kind of stresses that could contribute to poor physical and mental health. Previous studies have shown that people who report high levels of worry about the people close to them are at a higher risk of heart disease but this is the first to suggest a link to premature mortality more generally.

Men in particular were found to be particularly vulnerable to “worries and demands” generated by female partners, researchers from the University of Copenhagen found, and being unemployed “amplified the negative impact of social relationship stressors.”

The authors of the paper, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health today [FRIDAY] added that helping people to cope with social worries and coaching couples and families in conflict management “may be considered important strategies for reducing premature deaths”.

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