As a person grows old, the functioning of his lungs weakens. According to researchers, anger and hostility can aggravate this process.
An 8-year study was conducted on 670 men, 45 - 86 years old. It was found that men who had higher levels of long-standing anger at the beginning of the project had notably poorer lung function at the end of it.
"This study is one of the first to show prospectively that hostility is associated with poorer pulmonary function and more rapid rates of decline among older men," said Dr Rosalind Wright, of Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, in a report online in the journal Thorax.
A scoring system was used to determine the levels of anger in each one of them and their lung-power was tested 3 times during the study, said the scientists.
Anger and hostility had a harmful effect on lung-power, even after other factors like smoking were taken into account. Anger, hostility and stress have been linked with heart disease, asthma and other illness also.
Negative emotions can alter biological process, may affect the immune system and cause chronic inflammation, according to Dr. Wright and her team.
"Stress-related factors are known to depress the immune function and increase susceptibility to or exacerbate a host of diseases and disorders," said Dr Paul Lehrer, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, in an editorial in the journal.
According to Lehrer, how persistent anger can play a role in physical deterioration is still unknown. However, the scientists have established a connection between chronic anger and age-related deterioration in lung function.
"The next step is to determine the exact pathway by which this happens," said Lehrer.