Stress Kills

Ed Park, MD Telomere erosion 1 Comment

Stress is a survival mechanism that evolved to protect us from danger.  One familiar stress hormone, adrenaline (that jolt you feel if you fall asleep and drift across your freeway lane,) helps you survive by causing your heart to race, lungs to open, pupils to widen, and by shutting down non-essential functions like digestion.

A second stress hormone is cortisol and it generates high blood pressure, high glucose, salt retention…in short, the physiology of running away from something trying to eat you.

Every night, Telomerase tries to repair your stem cells, but the stress-induced hormone, cortisol, inhibits telomerase activity, as shown in this study, causing your immune function to be ground down, and other stem cells to fail.

Here is a video explaining the link between stress and illness:

Comments 1

  1. That was a very interesting video. It’s commonly known that stress does affect aging, but few people are actually aware of the dangers posed by stress. Negative stressors increase our risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression, etc. while lowering the body’s resistance to disease. This would explain why persons living in poorer socioeconomic conditions where they are less physically active, eat food of lower nutritional value, and experiencing increased mental stress have more health problems than those who reside in “calmer” places.

    Indeed premature aging associated with elevated levels of steroid hormones adrenaline and cortisol maybe countered with a change in lifestyle. Incidentally, in 2009 a German study looked at the relationship between aging and exercise. They found that middle-aged persons (average age was 51) whom participated in running ( running at least 50 miles per week) experienced lengthened telomeres i.e. exercise reduced telomere shortening. Obviously the physical activity stimulated telomerase production which helped to maintain the health of the cell’s DNA. (I’m curious to know what affect strength training would have on aging, but I suspect that it would be positive.)

    It’s very encouraging to know that we have some control over this form of aging. Proper nutrition, regular exercise, sleep and peace of mind can go a long way toward improving a person’s outlook on life and quite possibly increase their longevity, too.


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