Long-term debt might impact your health

Long-term debt might impact your health

Credit cards bills or payday loans are the kind of unsecured debt that can be a pain in the you-know-what. Now scientists think the pain might end up being all too real and adversely affect your health.

A study out of the University of Missouri examined the financial health of 8,000 baby boomers when they were 28 to 40 years old. Scientists then checked on the physical health of these same individuals when they turned 50.

What they found should be concerning for anyone whose bills persistently leave a burning hole in their budget. People who carry unsecured debt through much of their adulthood experience worse health later in life than those folks who are solvent. These debt-laden souls were an extraordinary 76% more likely to experience chronic pain bad enough to interfere with their daily life.

Even those who improved their financial situation still experienced health issues. People who paid down their bills were 50% more likely to experience pain.

Debt, researchers suggest, might be a chronic stressor that can wear the body down. Stress can lead to heart problems, high blood pressure and diabetes. Its tentacles can reach to the brain and trigger anxiety and depression.

Not all debt is bad. That monthly mortgage payment helps you build wealth as equity grows in a home. So investigators focused on debt with typically high interest rates that can grow like a cancer and often lead to bankruptcy.

The study says helping families avoid debt in early adulthood can pay health dividends later in life. As with any prescription for avoiding a deep financial hole, that can be easier said than done.

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