A new study published in the journal of Psychology and Aging found that anger can be more harmful than sadness.

Being angry can increase an individual’s risk for conditions like heart disease, arthritis and cancer in old age.

For this study, researchers examined data from 226 adults between ages 59 and 93.

The study found that those who regularly show anger are more prone to higher levels of inflammation and numerous chronic illnesses.

“As most people age, they simply cannot do the activities they once did, or they may experience the loss of a spouse or a decline in their physical mobility and they can become angry,” lead author Meaghan A. Barlow, a researcher at Concordia University, said in a release by the American Psychological Association. “Our study showed that anger can lead to the development of chronic illnesses, whereas sadness did not.”

Those who participated were asked to complete daily surveys for a week, while also gauging their levels of anger and sadness. Participants also submitted blood samples to measure inflammation.

“We found that experiencing anger daily was related to higher levels of inflammation and chronic illness for people 80 years old and older, but not for younger seniors,” co-author Carsten Wrosch said. “Sadness, on the other hand, was not related to inflammation or chronic illness.”

Not all anger is bad researchers suggested. It can also come with some benefits.

“Anger is an energizing emotion that can help motivate people to pursue life goals,” Barlow said. “Younger seniors may be able to use that anger as fuel to overcome life’s challenges and emerging age-related losses and that can keep them healthier. Anger becomes problematic for adults once they reach 80 years old, however, because that is when many experience irreversible losses and some of life’s pleasures fall out of reach.”

Sadness has its motivating factors too, as it can help the elderly accept their physical limitations. This can assist them in making the necessary changes in their lives.

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