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Nagging could drive men to an early grave, study suggests

People who have stressful social relationships are up to three times more likely to die prematurely - with men worst affected

Antonia Molloy
Friday 09 May 2014 09:17 BST

People who are frequently nagged and put upon by family and friends are more likely to die during middle age – and men are most at risk.

Individuals who regularly experience stress in their relationships with their partner, children, family, friends or neighbours are two to three times more likely to die prematurely, according to new research.

The study, carried out by scientists at the University of Copenhagen and published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, also found that unemployed men are most at risk of going to an early grave.

Men are thought to be more significantly affected as they tend to keep problems bottled up and have weaker support networks than women.

Scientists studied data from 9875 men and women between the ages of 36 and 52. All were asked questions about their everyday social relationships

Eleven years later, 196 women (4 per cent) and 226 men (6 per cent) had died. Nearly half of the deaths were from cancer, while heart disease, liver disease, accidents and suicide also contributed.

Researchers analysed the connection between recurrent arguments - and general worry - in relationships and mortality. A person’s age, gender, living arrangements and employment status were also taken into account.

It was found that people who had reported frequent worries and demands from a partner of had a 50-100 per cent increased mortality risk, while those who experienced regular conflicts within any type of relationship had a two to three times increased mortality risk.

“Having an argument every now and then is fine, but having it all the time seems dangerous," study researcher Rikke Lund, an associate professor of medical sociology at University of Copenhagen, told Live Science.

“Worrying about people is a character of us loving them. It's just when it takes up all of your time that it's unhealthy,” Lund said

About one in 10 participants in the study said their partners or children were a frequent source of worry or placed excess demands on them.

Six per cent said other relatives placed a burden on them, while 2 per cent cited friends as a source of stress.

In addition, 6 per cent had frequent with their partners and children, 2 per cent with other relatives, and 1 per cent with friends.

The researchers said: “Stressful social relations are associated with increased mortality risk among middle-aged men and women for a variety of different social roles. Those outside the labour force and men seem especially vulnerable to exposure.”

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