Losing Money is a Health Hazard

Money_CashA sudden loss of wealth is not only bad for your lifestyle, it could be really bad for your health. How bad? A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests that losing your nest egg could be deadly.

From Time.com:

When people lose 75% or more of their wealth, they are 50% more likely to die early than people whose wealth remains steady, according to new research.

In the study, published Tuesday in the journal JAMA, researchers examined how losing financial stability impacts a person’s health over time. The researchers looked at how experiencing a “negative wealth shock”—defined as losing 75% or more of their total asset value, including things like a pension, home or business, over two years—affected a person’s mortality.

Over a 20-year follow-up period, 25% of people experienced a negative wealth shock; those men and women were at a much higher risk for death from all causes.

According to the Washington Post, “A mounting body of evidence suggests a link between financial setbacks and ill health, and there’s growing interest from traditional health-care players in the nonmedical factors, such as economic security, that shape people’s well-being. Researchers have used the Great Recession as a natural experiment to study the effects of losing wealth and found losses associated with depression, anxiety, suicide, higher blood pressure and substance abuse.”

Reuters.com compared the health ramifications of suddenly losing ones fortune, to never having much money at all. The study highlighted how the loss of money put the two groups at almost the same level of risk for dying prematurely.

Compared with people who continuously maintained a comfortable level of wealth, participants who experienced negative wealth shock were 50 percent more likely to die during the study, researchers report in JAMA. People who started out in poverty or in debt were 67 percent more likely to die.

“Having wealth and losing it suddenly carries almost the same risk for premature mortality as never having wealth,” said lead study author Lindsay Pool, a researcher at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Newsmax.com added, “About one in four people studied lost 75 percent or more of their net worth over two years, resulting in wealth shock. The average amount lost was around $100,000. Some of the losses were due to investment values dropping or home foreclosures.”

And the Associated Press pointed out –

“The findings suggest a wealth shock is as dangerous as a new diagnosis of heart disease, wrote Dr. Alan Garber of Harvard University in an accompanying editorial, noting that doctors need to recognize how money hardships may affect their patients.”

Share your thoughts on this new report and whether you believe, as one doctor noted, that losing your wealth is as “dangerous as a new diagnosis of heart disease.” Is there anything we can do to help people suffering from wealth shock? If so, what is it? Generating meaningful conversations around the health stories making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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