An urgent health warning for middle-aged worry warts

Yesterday, we focused on the impact stress has on women’s heart health. But I briefly mentioned both women and men can benefit from stress-relieving techniques. 

And now, new research shows just how much unchecked anxiety can negatively affect men’s health. 

(Hint: It involves multiple diseases.) 

Here’s everything you need to know… 

Neuroticism and worry harm men’s health   

Recent research in the Journal of the American Heart Association showed that anxious and negative middle-aged men face a higher risk of cardiometabolic disease (whether it’s heart disease, stroke, or diabetes) as they age. 

These researchers analyzed data from the Normative Aging Study, which included nearly 1,600 men with an average age of 53 years in the year 1975. All participants completed assessments of neuroticism and worry, but at the time none had heart disease or cancer.  

(Neuroticism refers to a tendency to quickly and frequently respond to tough situations as stressful, threatening, or overwhelming. It can also be characterized by intense negative feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, and sadness. On the other hand, worrying can be either constructive or destructive, depending on the situation.) 

The researchers gave the men physical exams and blood tests every three to five years, through 2015. These assessments looked for changes in cardiometabolic risk factors like blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, obesity, blood sugar, and inflammation markers.  

Cardiometabolic risk factors increased by about one per decade, on average, between the ages of 33 to 65. But more neuroticism—or the higher the amount of worry—made these factors jump even higher.  

Ultimately, men with higher neuroticism had a 13 percent higher risk of having six or more cardiometabolic risk factors, even after adjusting for other factors (like a family history of heart disease).  

And higher worry levels were linked with a 10 percent higher risk. Both of which are quite significant increases. 

Self-care is important 

This isn’t the first time research has exposed neuroticism as a dangerous red flag to overall health.  

In fact, a study I shared late last year found this personality trait is also a strong predictor for brain changes related to Alzheimer’s disease. (And considering the links between diabetes, heart disease, and dementia, that’s really no surprise.)  

So I’ll say it again: It’s time to make your emotional health a priority. 

We can’t help the personalities we’re born with. But there’s a lot you can do to lessen the damage that stress, anxiety, and negative thinking can do to your body.  

Mindfulness practices, like we discussed yesterday, are one strategy. But consistent attention to good sleep habits, regular exercise, and a nutritious, balanced diet is just as important. (Learn more about what these strategies can do for you in the January 2018 issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter. If you’re not yet a subscriber, click here to become one!) 

After all, true self-care starts with nurturing your mind and your body. And the rewards? Well, those will last you a lifetime.     


“Men who worry more may develop heart disease and diabetes risk factors at younger ages.” Science Daily. 01/24/2022. (