It’s a potential health risk to be a college graduate these days.
New study finds graduates who struggle to repay student loans are more prone to heart disease published on Wednesday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
In fact, the negative effects of this stress may even outweigh the benefits of higher education, researchers at the University of Colorado have found.
“As the cost of college has risen, students and their families have taken on more debt to get to and stay in college,” said study lead author Dr. Adam Lippert. declaration to SWNS. But this “massive financial burden,” as he describes it, is familiar to many Americans, but “little we know about the potential long-term health consequences of this debt.”
Lippert continued: “Previous research has shown that in the short term, student debt burden is associated with self-reported health and mental health, so we wanted to understand if student debt is associated with cardiovascular disease in adults. in the early forties.
Almost 43 million Americans have accumulated some sort of student loan debt as of 2021, with total debt outstanding amounting to $1.59 trillion, according to data from the US Department of Education.
The new study found that graduates who defaulted on their debt as adults, waiting until their 40s, were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, considered the most common cardiovascular disease in the world. deadliest health condition by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the United States only, approx. 659,000 people succumbed to heart disease each year, or 1 in 4 people.
The researchers also found that the health of people who did paying off their loans sooner was as good as, if not better than, people who had never had difficulty with student loans.
Research participants were divided into four groups: those who have never had a student loan (37%), those who have repaid it (12%), those who have taken on new debt (28% ) and people who have always been in debt (24%). .
Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), the study analyzed more than 20,000 participants who were followed for 12 to 44 years. Of these, 4,193 people participated in home medical examinations.
Lippert’s research team used the Framingham Risk measurement tool to estimate the risk of heart disease over the next 30 years of life, taking into account age, sex, blood pressure, body mass index, smoking status and diagnosis of diabetes. The researchers also looked at CRP (C-reactive protein) levels, which can indicate chronic or systemic inflammation.
While people who had defaulted on their loans had a higher risk score, those who had repaid their debt had significantly lower risk scores than people who had never faced debt.
“Respondents in our study came of age and went to college at a time when student debt was rising rapidly with an average debt of about $25,000 for four-year college graduates,” Lippert said. “It has increased further since then, leaving younger cohorts with more student debt than any that came before them.”
The results highlight the potential public health problems of student debt, he said, and it completely undermines the educational and socioeconomic benefits of attending higher education.
“Unless something is done to reduce the costs of going to college and cancel outstanding debt, the health consequences of rising student debt are likely to increase.”