Does Anger Lower Your Lung Function?

Here’s even more reason to take a deep breath and let anger slide: The American Psychological Association Journal has published a study led by Smith College psychologist Benita Jackson testing whether a relationship exists between levels of hostility and lung function — the reduction of which can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.

The data pool consisted of 4,629 healthy adults between 18 and 30, living in Minneapolis, Birmingham, Chicago, and Oakland. Subjects were asked to blow into a machine to determine lung function, then answer a 50-item questionnaire agreeing or disagreeing with statements like “I am easily angered.” The results showed that, after adjusting for age, socioeconomic status, smoking and asthma, higher hostility scores were consistently associated with lower lung function for black men, black women and white women. The association was not present, however, in white men.

While Jackson and her team tested for smoking, they left out a host of other environmental factors; there is also the possibility that breathing problems lead to anger rather than vice versa. Still, the idea that negative emotions can lead to health problems is supported by other research.

(Hat tip: British Psychological Society blog.)


frankenduf

duh- stress leads to sickness- I would like to see this study done in a clean air zone (if there are any left)- ie this study may just link anger/city life/city smog/lung disease

discordian

now I ain't no doctor but it seems to me that anger -> increased heart rate -> faster and shallower breathing.

Thus... take a deep breath and count to 10 when you feel angry.

zadig

I think breathing problems would certainly make *me* angry, so I'm going with the flipped causality. Breathing problems > anger.

Of course, you could collect some history to see if the people have always been angry, or if it started after the lung issues. I'd like to see the results of that follow-up.

Theo

I'm constantly amazed by the research conducted to try to prove or disprove emotional or psychological causes of physical ilness. The human body is a crazily-complex development with uncounted interlinking systems. Any reasoned holistic approach should lead us to the realization that yes, our emotions affect our health, just as our health can affect our emotions. All things are inter-related. It is perhaps the greatest flaw of our medicine that we continually try to separate and disassociate the various aspects of our being to treat them individually.

One of the challenges I would make to studies like the one above, are the assumptions of value placed upon the occurances being studied. For example "negative emotions." I think any researcher who is already looking at one aspect of the study as "negative" is biasing his results already. Anger, as with all our emotions, has it's place and it's value. Starting out with an assumption of negativity not prevents us from looking at results objectively, but continues a social awareness that encourages us to handle our emotions poorly, often through supression or sublimation.

I'd like to see some serious research that focuses less on demonstrating that emotions affect our health, and more on examining how we can process emotions more effectively to benefit our health.

Read more...

royceremer

^ Amen.

Quoted from Theo:
"It is perhaps the greatest flaw of our medicine that we continually try to separate and disassociate the various aspects of our being to treat them individually."

As time goes on, 'bedside' manner will become less of a nicety and more of a requirement for doctors.

zbicyclist

I'd say there's a good chance of uncertain causality.

There are at least some common lung problems -- sarcoidosis, to name one -- that are more common in American blacks. The cause is obscure, especially since in Europe this condition is more common in Scandinavians.

Blacks may also tend to be angrier. I don't think I need to explain this, do I?

frankenduf

duh- stress leads to sickness- I would like to see this study done in a clean air zone (if there are any left)- ie this study may just link anger/city life/city smog/lung disease

discordian

now I ain't no doctor but it seems to me that anger -> increased heart rate -> faster and shallower breathing.

Thus... take a deep breath and count to 10 when you feel angry.

zadig

I think breathing problems would certainly make *me* angry, so I'm going with the flipped causality. Breathing problems > anger.

Of course, you could collect some history to see if the people have always been angry, or if it started after the lung issues. I'd like to see the results of that follow-up.

Theo

I'm constantly amazed by the research conducted to try to prove or disprove emotional or psychological causes of physical ilness. The human body is a crazily-complex development with uncounted interlinking systems. Any reasoned holistic approach should lead us to the realization that yes, our emotions affect our health, just as our health can affect our emotions. All things are inter-related. It is perhaps the greatest flaw of our medicine that we continually try to separate and disassociate the various aspects of our being to treat them individually.

One of the challenges I would make to studies like the one above, are the assumptions of value placed upon the occurances being studied. For example "negative emotions." I think any researcher who is already looking at one aspect of the study as "negative" is biasing his results already. Anger, as with all our emotions, has it's place and it's value. Starting out with an assumption of negativity not prevents us from looking at results objectively, but continues a social awareness that encourages us to handle our emotions poorly, often through supression or sublimation.

I'd like to see some serious research that focuses less on demonstrating that emotions affect our health, and more on examining how we can process emotions more effectively to benefit our health.

Read more...

royceremer

^ Amen.

Quoted from Theo:
"It is perhaps the greatest flaw of our medicine that we continually try to separate and disassociate the various aspects of our being to treat them individually."

As time goes on, 'bedside' manner will become less of a nicety and more of a requirement for doctors.

zbicyclist

I'd say there's a good chance of uncertain causality.

There are at least some common lung problems -- sarcoidosis, to name one -- that are more common in American blacks. The cause is obscure, especially since in Europe this condition is more common in Scandinavians.

Blacks may also tend to be angrier. I don't think I need to explain this, do I?