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Boredom "could be bad for health"

Those of us who want to live longer should keep an active mind, after a medical study linked boredom to a shortened life span.

Researchers from University College London studied a survey of civil servants aged between 35 and 55 and found that those who reported being bored were likely to die younger than those who did not.

Harmful behaviour, such as drinking too much, smoking and taking drugs, could be a result of being bored, it said.

The research, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, was not intended to be a serious piece of scientific work but a commentary piece for the amusement of medics.

The study was based on the response of more than 7,000 civil servants who filled out surveys between 1985 and 1988 on how often they had felt bored in the previous month.

Young women were found to be the most bored, while those who said they had been very bored were found to be more likely to die of a heart problem than those who were not.

But this effect was reduced after researchers took into account underlying ill-health and poor health behaviours.

The report authors said, however: "The state of boredom is almost certainly a proxy for other risk factors."

International Journal of Epidemiology