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Relationship conflict may be linked to early death, study says

A Danish study says that relationship conflicts involving family, friends and even neighbors may be linked to an earlier death.
Lois M. Collins, Deseret News Modified: May 28, 2014 at 11:32 am •  Published: May 29, 2014

A Danish study says that relationship conflicts involving family, friends and even neighbors may be linked to premature death.

The study was published in May in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

"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," the researchers, from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, wrote.

“I think it really adds to our broader understanding of the influence of relationships, not only on our overall health, but on our longevity — how long we actually live,” Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a researcher at Brigham Young University who had no part in the study, told Reuters Health.

The Danish researchers examined relationships with partners, children, other family, friends and neighbors, in that order, using baseline data from the Danish Longitudinal Study on Work, Unemployment and Health. The database included 9,875 men and women ages 36 to 52. They then crosslinked it to the Danish Cause of Death Registry and followed the subjects for 11 years, finding that by that time, 422 were no longer living. The most common cause of death was cancer — which accounted for about half — but some died of heart disease, liver failure, accident and even suicide.

“Conflicts, especially, were associated with higher mortality risk regardless of whom was the source of the conflict,” the researchers wrote. “Worries and demands were only associated with mortality risk if they were related to partner or children."

"Frequent worries/demands from partner or children were associated with 50 to 100 percent increased mortality risk. Frequent conflicts with any type of social relation were associated with two to three times increased mortality risk."

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