Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hostility and Health

In the past few days, I have noticed a deluge of angry posts on an over-50 website I won't name here (I belong to more than one). The same screen names keep appearing, connected to repeated rants about government conspiracies, inept public officials and unjust laws, personal slights, and even attacks on people who don't share the writer's religious or non-religious beliefs. I can't find any positive, problem-solving suggestions in those posts.

Let me make clear that I believe in free speech, realize that everything is not rosy in the world, and believe that expressing anger can be therapeutic. But how much is too much? The net effect of these rants has been to turn me away from that website, or at least from certain forums (and it's strange how the same rants by the same people appear repeatedly regardless of a forum's stated topic). I'm not condemning over-50 websites; in fact, I'm a great supporter of and contributor to them , but that negativity helps explain the unattractive image of miserable, complaining "old folks" that seems to be fairly common. I'm old myself, but I'd certainly try to avoid those "angry old men and women."

Today, I read a New York Times News Service article by Nichola Bakalar in the Chicago Tribune entitled, "Hostility may raise the risk of illnesses." The article begins, "Researchers studying 313 healthy Vietnam veterans have found that anger and hostility may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure." This increased my concern for the over-50 writers of all those bitter diatribes. Life is too short to concentrate on the bad and ignore the good.

The researchers measured levels of C3 protein in the blood of the study's subjects. C3 is a marker for "the inflammation that is a risk factor for cardiovascular illnesses." They discovered that those with the most hostility, anger, and depression showed a steady, significant increase in C3 levels, and this may put them at greaater risk for hypertension, diabetes, and coronary heart disease.

Although they can't explain the cause of this phenomenon, the researchers suggest efforts to control hostility. At the very least, being less angry and hostile would seem to enhance the lives of those constant on-line ranters. I wish them well.

Copyright 2007 by Marlys Marshall Styne


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Kay Dennison said...

I have problens with depression now and again but I refuse to let it beat me. Studies have shown that laughter is therapeutic so I try to find things to laugh about even if its gallows humor. Folks like those you described are killing themselves and trying to take the rest of us with them. The trick is not to let them even if it means separating yourself from them.

Come by my blog on Mondays for The Groaner of the week if you need a giggle! lol

seniorwriter said...

Thanks, Kay. I agree with you about the value of humor. Negative thinking is dangerous!

ell said...

I dislike constant negativity with a passion. It's counterproductive and, as the studies show, bad for one's health.

I don't mind a rant now and then to vent, but when people continually rant just for the sake of hearing their own ranting, I want to give them a shake and say, "Get over it."

That's my rant for the day! :-D

p.s. Happy I found your blog.

seniorwriter said...

Thanks, ell. Come back often. I am usually too busy to post every day, but I get to it at least twice a week (usually). It's great to keep busy at my age--perhaps that's what keeps me healthy.