Deaths from circulatory diseases increase when men lack purpose in life and women do not have people relying on them, according to a Wakayama Medical University study released Saturday.
A group of researchers led by Kiyomi Sakata, an assistant professor at the university, conducted a study on 2,959 people aged between 40 and 79 in two municipalities in Wakayama Prefecture, for periods ranging from seven to 11 years, looking for correlations between circulatory diseases and psychosocial factors.
Members of the team said they found lifestyles and psychological factors are closely connected with circulatory diseases, which include heart disease and cerebrovascular disorders.
Community support to help people find a purpose in life is as important as dietary concerns to prevent such diseases, they added.
According to the study, men who said they have nothing to live for are 4.9 times more likely to die of cerebrovascular diseases as men who said they have a purpose in life.
The risk of death from circulatory diseases among aimless men was also 3.5 times greater than among other men.
Males who reported feeling stress were 5.9 times more likely to die of cerebrovascular diseases and 2.1 times more likely to succumb to circulatory diseases compared with men who felt no stress.
Women who do not consider themselves needed by others were 2.6 times more likely to die of circulatory illnesses than women who felt needed.
Women without dependents were also at greater risk of dying of heart and cerebrovascular diseases, at 2.8 times and 2.6 times, respectively.
Women who said they lack a purpose in life also faced a 3 times higher risk of death from heart diseases than other women. Stress in women did not, however, indicate any correlation with any other disorder, according to the study.
“It has been reported in the United States that purpose in life and social support significantly affect people’s health conditions, and we had the same result,” Sakata said.
The researchers also found that psychosocial factors did not affect cancer rates in men and women. Sakata said this is probably because cancer is more affected by other factors, such as smoking or eating habits.