Being angry or being sad aren’t particularly ideal dispositions for sound mental health, but which is worse when it comes to physical health? A new study finds that anger appears to be much more harmful, with the potential to increase one’s risk for ailments like heart disease, arthritis, and even cancer in old age.
Researchers say that older adults who regularly show anger are more likely to have higher levels of inflammation, which can lead to numerous chronic illnesses. Inflammation occurs when the immune system attempts to protect the body and fight off bacterial infections and viruses after an injury or when battling an illness.
“As most people age, they simply cannot do the activities they once did, or they may experience the loss of a spouse or a decline in their physical mobility and they can become angry,” says lead author Meaghan A. Barlow, a researcher at Concordia University, in a release by the American Psychological Association. “Our study showed that anger can lead to the development of chronic illnesses, whereas sadness did not.”