Midlife wealth shock, defined as a major sudden economic loss during middle age, has been shown to increase Americans’ risks of dying over the next 20 years by 50 percent in a new study.
The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, could not prove cause-and-effect, but showed a correlation when 9,000 people were studied.
About one in four people studied lost 75 percent or more of their net worth over two years, resulting in wealth shock, The Associated Press reported. The average amount lost was around $100,000. Some of the losses were due to investment values dropping or home foreclosures.
Americans who had no significant net worth or negative net worth were 67 percent more likely to die during the study, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Study authors theorized that the stress of the loss may have caused inflammation or high blood pressure, which could increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, the LA Times reported. They also said financial problems could have led people to forgo medical care or expensive medicines that may have kept them healthier.
The study suggested people may want to consider recent changes in their wealth status when gauging medical risks, the AP reported. The effect was most pronounced when a home was lost.
Researchers adjusted for marital status, race, age, education level, BMI, and smoking.
U.S. life expectancy has dropped for the last two years after many years of rising, but most experts attributed much of the decline to increases in opioid abuse.
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