Stress/Psychological Distress Radically Increases Risk of Death. A large, pooled meta-analysis of ten population-based studies by NHS Scotland (2012) aimed to quantify the link between stress levels and cause-specific mortality. Tracking 68,000+ initially cancer-free subjects over 8+ years, the findings were grim: moderate stress increased the risk of death by 40%. Highly symptomatic stress increased it by more than 90%, with deaths largely due to heart disease, cancer and accidents. Cancer death was only associated with higher level stress.