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Stress and Youth: Is 30 the new 60?

Written by Suzanne Leigh

Juggling hectic lifestyles that promote bad habits, young adults are feeling stressed out and older.

Young people are growing old before their time, thanks to stressful lifestyles that promote bad habits, says a British survey.

Studying 950 adults, aged 18 to 24, researchers found that one in three admits to overeating or smoking in response to stress, and another 40 percent said they have used alcohol to relieve that stress.

Work is the biggest cause of stress, followed by financial concerns and relationships.

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Women are more likely to turn to food when they're under stress, with more than half choosing chocolate as the biggest stress reliever, while young men are more likely to turn to alcohol.

The survey, which was sponsored by the pro-healthy diet group, Bread for Life, also found that one in three young people suffers from insomnia, 56 percent complain of headaches and 23 percent suffer from depression.

Commenting on the research, Cary Cooper, a Manchester psychologist said that the symptoms the young people were complaining about were more commonly associated with the stress of midlife.

They're turning toward living destructively unhealthy lifestyles from an early age, he said.

In other research, scientists found that people who coped poorly with stress were more likely to develop heart disease. Researchers evaluated 152 participants aged 30 to 59 who scored highly on mental stress tests. All participants were healthy, but had siblings with premature heart disease.

When the subjects completed two exercise stress tests, researchers found evidence of silent coronary ischemia, a condition in which blood does not flow adequately to the heart.  According to lead researcher at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the study showed that people who cope poorly with stress may be at much higher risk for a heart attack, or may have an accelerated development of heart disease.

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