The overwhelming evidence is that many of the diseases we associate with ageing may, in part, be the result of lifelong and poorly managed stress. Indeed, there is now ample evidence that stress has measurable effects on ageing and longevity, and it is those with the lowest levels of stress who, in the end, will experience the least cognitive and physical decline with age (J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 1997; 82: 2458-65).
The inferences from this are profound. While our doctors - who have long disputed the influence of stress on health - play catch-up with the growing evidence of the deleterious effects of stress, we may all be dying earlier and from diseases we need not have had in the first place. Instead of popping pills, lessons in stress survival may eventually be the thing that saves us all.