A recent study out of the University of Minnesota concluded that hostility depletes certain antioxidants linked to heart health.
Here’s yet another reason to forgive and forget: A recent study out of the University of Minnesota concluded that hostility depletes certain antioxidants linked to heart health. The study followed 3579 ornery people between the ages of 18 and 30, and found that seven years later, they had significantly lower levels of antioxidant carotenoids than they did at the outset. Research director Dr. Tetsuya Ohira and his team point out that angry people tend to smoke, drink, and eat badly, and that these lifestyle factors might account for the results.
The report doesn’t indicate whether the subjects maintained their persnickety ways throughout the years of the study, nor if the degree of antioxidant depletion corresponded to the level of hostility. In other words, will you deplete the same amounts of antioxidants if you throw just one temper tantrum a month, versus if you stay steamed-up for months at a time? Does your hostility need to manifest in a colorful display of knife throwing, or does mere smoldering resentment do the trick? Although the report does not address the issue, I would guess that long-term, low-level anger is more devastating to your antioxidant levels than if you throw lively tantrums since a tantrum, at least, provides some form of release. The body was designed to handle occasional bursts of stress — but not 24/7 stress.
In fact, hostility creates a particularly venomous variety of stress — if you’ve ever felt angry or resentful, you know how your heart pounds and your head reels. And stress does ugly things to the body, including increasing free radical production by well over 100 percent. When free radicals flood your system, they burn up the available antioxidants; and when the balance shifts in favor of free radicals, you can end up with altered DNA, cellular damage, and a host of major diseases.
And so, if you’re annoyed at the boss who treats you like a pound-dog, or resentful of the neighbor who plastered her lawn with signs endorsing a candidate you hate, you’d better start taking high-quality antioxidant supplements. Because while you’re busy creating a battle plan to get back at your boss, you can bet that your very own free radicals are staging a battle against you that can ruin your health. It might not seem fair, but like it or not, hostility works against your health in real, measurable, DNA-altering ways. In fact, one study shows that hostile people are nine times more likely to have free radical induced coronary calcification than their mellow peers. Think about that the next time your blood starts to boil.