A new study finds that men who experience continuous moderate to high levels of stressful life events over many years have 50 percent higher death rate.

Dr. Carolyn Aldwin is the lead author of the study and a professor of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University published in the Journal of Aging Research.

The first of its kind study pointed out direct link between stress trajectories and mortality in aging population. Other studies focused on short term stress in a short amount of time which is geared towards younger people. The Aldwin study documents stress throughout many years.

The study followed men with good health who signed up for the Boston VA Normative Aging Study in 1960s. The researchers used survey of almost 1,000 middle class and working class men for an 18 year period from 1985 to 2003.

“I modified the stress measure to reflect the kinds of stress that we know impacts us more as we age, and even we were surprised at how strong the correlation between stress trajectories and mortality was, said Aldwin."

The study found that low stress group averaged two or fewer major life events in a year, while moderate group had three and high stress group had up to six.

What surprised the researchers was that mortality risk for moderate and high stress groups were similar.

“It seems there is a threshold and perhaps with anything more than two major life events a year and people just max out,” Aldwin said. “We were surprised the effect was not linear and that the moderate group had a similar risk of death to the high-risk group.”

"Our research suggests that long-term, even moderate stress can have lethal effects,” Aldwin said.

The research group will next explore chronic daily stress as well as coping strategies.

See interview with Aldwin below: