Life dissatisfaction as an independent health risk

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In an interesting large-scale study[1], Finnish researchers followed 22,461 individuals over 19 years to find possible links between life satisfaction and mortality. Not surprisingly (at least not to the many who should be able to observe this link in their immediate surroundings), dissatisfaction with life was found to be related to increased mortality as well as to adverse health behavior and even death from injury.

It makes sense that those who don't care that much (or any longer) about living will take risks, both consciously and subconsciously.[2]

This study highlights the fact that a truly healthy lifestyle goes beyond of what is typically thought to be included (diet, exercise and stress control in particular).

An article published in the Healthy Living Newsletter[3] summarized the study findings as follows.

"The 'secrets' of living longer and healthier are not really secrets at all. In a study of Finnish men, those that expressed a high level of satisfaction with their lives are more likely to be alive 20 years later than those who are dissatisfied. One of the greatest predictors of satisfaction was the ability to form intimate relationships.

Conversely, dissatisfied men were found to be three times more likely to die of serious diseases such as cancer. Men who drink heavily are even more likely to die, while moderate drinking appeared to extend life. Marriage, reasonable exercise, a good social status and not smoking all proved to be life-extending."


1 Self-reported life satisfaction and 20-year mortality in healthy Finnish adults (American Journal of Epidemiology, 2000), free full text at aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/152/10/983.long.

2 This may go all the way to a more or less conscious death wish, see Dr. Hans-Peter Zimmermann's observation on cancer patients.

3 Volume 1 Number 1, August 1, 2002

Is there a cure for cancer? After 20 years of research

discover what this German expert thinks.

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