Stressed out by everyday living

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The Independent Online
Modern life is taking its toll, according to Government statistics, which say 60 per cent of women and more than half of men have suffered stress in the past year.

Men and women in their mid-thirties and early forties are most vulnerable to stress triggered by work, relationships, and family pressures.

The findings, based on a survey of 4,672 adults by the Office of National Statistics, found that 60 per cent of women and 52 per cent of men admitted to suffering "moderate" or "large" amounts of stress in the last 12 months.

There is increasing evidence of the role played by stress in ill-health. One recent study in the British Medical Journal reported a link between the development of breast cancer, and traumas such as bereavement, unemployment, divorce, and moving house. Many doctors believe that it should be placed at the core of mainstream medicine as a cause of ill-health.

The ONS survey, the first of a planned series, gives an insight into health-related behaviour, knowledge, and attitudes in England. While most respondents claim their health is generally good, there is widespread confusion about what foods are healthy, ignorance over safe drinking levels, and dismissal of some health education messages.

While people recognise the link between sunburn and skin cancer, for example, one in four said they had been sunburned in the12 months before interview. Seven in 10 people said experts never agreed on what foods were good, and only two-fifths of those who had heard of alcoholic units knew how many units there were in a pint of beer, a glass of wine or a pub measure of spirits.

The ONS surveys are designed to monitor trends in health-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviour.

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