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Bored to death?

The first few hours of being stuck inside without heat or power as a blizzard rages outside can be kind of exhilarating. You find ingenious ways to occupy yourself, enjoy leisure-time activities such as playing cards or reading that too often you lack the leisure time to do.

But at some point, for even the most inventive and imaginative among us, boredom rears its lazy head. Those of us who typically rail against the very notion of being bored are forced to surrender and acknowledge that we're bored out of our skulls.

For most of us, that acute, isolated experience with being bored will come and go without leaving much of a mark. But for some people, when the snow finally melts, boredom may remain. And that, according to new research, may be bad for your health.

In a brief paper to be published in April in the International Journal of Epidemiology, researchers at University College London report that people who say they're often bored may die younger than others. The researchers analyzed data from 7,524 participants in a late-1980s British survey who were asked whether they had been bored during the past four weeks. Choices ranged from "not at all" to "a great deal." The question was administered twice, in different phases of the survey.

Checking death records through April 2009, the team found that people who'd reported a great deal of boredom were more likely to have died than those who had reported no boredom at all. The relationship was even more pronounced among those who had reported boredom on both survey occasions. Though people who'd had cardiovascular disease when they were surveyed were excluded from the analysis, bored people were more than 2.5 times as likely to die from cardiovascular disease than the non-bored.

The authors make clear that boredom itself was not likely the actual cause of death in these cases, but instead stood as a proxy for other circumstances such as alcohol or drug abuse, underlying psychological issues, disease or position in society. So, the authors conclude, "Finding renewed interest in social and physical activities may alleviate boredom and improve health, thus reducing the risk of being 'bored to death'."

Now if only someone would research whether it's really possible to be bored to tears or bored out of your mind.

For more health news, please follow me on Twitter! http://twitter.com/jhuget.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  February 15, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Chronic Conditions , General Health  
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