Honesty is Still the Best Policy - How Lying Makes You Ill and Shortens Your Life

By Sharon Moore on October 04, 2012

Many of us claim they don’t lie or never lied at all. Well, they must be lying! Studies show that an average person lies 11 times a week. For whatever reason, sometimes we can’t help but lie. Maybe you blamed the imaginary traffic congestion for being late in your date, or praised a friend for her new hairstyle though deep within, you think it’s like a wig. Maybe you turned down an invitation because you’re “not feeling well” (although in reality, you just don’t like to attend, period). These little lies may be too “little” to ignore. But, they can take a toll on your relationship with other people, and most importantly, on your health.

Deception is very rampant in today’s world. Often times, we lie to those we love the most. But other than destroying relationships, telling a lie cuts your life – literally.

Liars are more likely to die young

In a research conducted by Anita Kelly and LiJuan Wang from Notre Dame, they found that people who lie are less likely to live longer. For their experiment, the researchers recruited 110 people ages 18 to 71 years. For 10 weeks, the participants went through a lie detection test once a week to report how many times they lied in the previous week. Prior this, the participants were grouped into two. The first group were given tips and instructions on how to avoid lying. The other group, on the other hand, got no instruction but simply to tell the truth.

Everyone lied less but the group that received advice reduced their lies even more. Using questionnaires, the researchers assessed how this affected the participants. They found that the group that lied less reported better mental and physical health than the other group. They also reported an improvement in their relationship, better sleep, fewer headaches and sore throats, and less tension. 

According to the researchers, the improved physical health of the subjects strengthens the evidence that stress creates biochemical effects to human beings, which trigger the onset of both physical and mental illnesses. 

Lying = Stress

Stress is normal. But chronic stress is bad for your health. When we are in a state of stress, our body goes through a “fight or flight” situation wherein some hormones remain active and others shut down. Stress helps us escape from potential danger. However, constant stress can do more harm than good. It disrupts the body’s hormonal balance which leads to varying health diseases. For instance, when you are highly stressed, your brain produces more cortisol – a hormone linked to depression, obesity, and cancer. Stress also causes our blood pressure to go up, which is a known risk factor for heart attack and stroke. 

There are so many causes of stress but most of them stay with us for just a while. There are things however, that keep us stress all the time. One of which is lying. When we lie, our conscious and subconscious minds become immediately afraid that we may get caught. The “fear” alone puts a considerable amount of stress in our body, activating some hormones and shutting down the others.

Honesty is the best policy. Always say the truth. Avoid lying. And live longer.


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