Anxiety Advantage for Elderly Women?
Anxious Elderly Women -- but Not Men -- May Live Longer, Study Shows
March 14, 2008 -- Anxiety could have a longevity perk late in life for
women, but it could be risky for elderly men, a new study shows.
The study included 1,000 U.S. seniors (average age: 80) living at home. They
completed annual surveys about their anxiety every year for 12 years.
Women with lower anxiety scores at the study's start had a higher death
rate. They were 9% more likely to die during the study than women who had
higher anxiety scores at the study's start.
"Anxiety may have a protective effect on women, possibly causing them to
seek medical attention more often than men," Jianping Zhang, MD, PhD, of
the Cleveland Clinic's psychiatry and psychology department, says in a news
But the study doesn't show whether anxious women went to see their doctors
more often than other people. And it also doesn't show whether the anxious
women had anxiety disorders.
Men were a different story. Their anxiety scores at the study's start
weren't linked to their death rates.
Men who became more anxious were more likely to die than those whose anxiety
level stayed steady. "Increasing anxiety over time is more detrimental to
men," Zhang says.
Becoming more anxious didn't affect women's death rate. What mattered was
how anxious women were when the study began, not whether their anxiety level
The results held when the researchers considered participants' lifestyle and
The study was presented yesterday in Baltimore at the American Psychosomatic
Society's annual meeting.