If you are feeling particularly angry today, you may want to check your breathing.
A new study says young adults with short tempers or “mean” dispositions also tend to have compromised lung function.
The American Psychological Association study, which appeared recently in the journal, Health Psychology, showed that young black men and women, and white women that tend to be hostile also have decreased lung function.
Young, white men were less likely to have decreased lung function, according to researchers, who examined 4,629 black and white adults age 18 to 30 living in various metropolitan areas.
The authors speculated that people in “lower status” roles such as black and white women, and black men elicit “stronger social consequences than white men, resulting in higher levels of internalized stress that can make them sick.”
Hostility was measured using a personality-measuring questionnaire called a Cook-Medley Questionnaire. Pulmonary function was measured while participants were standing and wearing a nose clip, blowing into a machine to measure their lung capacity, which can indicate upper airway obstruction.
The correlation between hostility and decreased lung function was made after researchers adjusted for age, height, socioeconomic status, asthma and smoking.
More research is needed to determine why hostility and reduced lung function appear to go hand-in-hand, said lead author and psychologist Benita Jackson of Smith College, in a press release.
“Right now, we can’t say if having a hostile personality causes lung function decline, though we now know that these things happen together,” Jackson added. “More research is needed to establish whether hostility is associated with change in pulmonary function during young adulthood.”
Researchers said further research also is needed to rule out if environmental toxins such as air pollution may contribute to both higher hostility and lower lung function.