Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Thoughtful words help couples stay fighting fit

17.11.2009
Couples who bring thoughtful words to a fight release lower amounts of stress-related proteins, suggesting that rational communication between partners can ease the impact of marital conflict on the immune system.

"Previous research has shown that couples who are hostile to each other show health impairments and are at greater risk of disease," said Jennifer Graham, assistant professor of biobehavioral health, Penn State. "We wanted to know if couples who use thoughtfulness and reasoning in the midst of a fight incur potential health benefits."

Individuals in a stressful situation -- as in a troubled relationship -- typically have elevated levels of chemicals known as cytokines. These proteins are produced by cells in the immune system and help the body mount an immune response during infection. However, abnormally high levels of these proteins are linked to illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, arthritis and some cancers.

"Typically, if you bring people to a lab and put them under stress, either by engaging them in a conflict or giving them a public speaking task, you can see an increase in proinflammatory cytokines such as Interleukin-6 (Il-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha)," explained Graham.

Using data collected by Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, distinguished university professor, S. Robert Davis Chair of Medicine and professor of psychiatry and psychology, Ohio State University College of Medicine; and Ronald Glaser, director, Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, Kathryn & Gilbert Mitchell Chair in Medicine and professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics, the researchers looked at levels of Il-6 and TNF-alpha in 42 married heterosexual couples both before and after marital discussion tasks.

"We specifically looked at words that are linked with cognitive processing in other research and which have been predictive of health in studies where people express emotion about stressful events," explained Graham. "These are words like -- think, because, reason, why -- that suggest people are either making sense of the conflict or at least thinking about it in a deep way."

For the study, the 42 couples made two separate overnight visits over two weeks. "We found that, controlling for depressed mood, individuals who showed more evidence of cognitive discussion during their fights showed smaller increases in both Il-6 and TNF-alpha cytokines over a 24-hour period," said Graham, whose findings appear in the current issue of Health Psychology.

During their first visit, couples had a neutral, fairly supportive discussion with their spouse. But during the second visit, couples focused on the topic of greatest contention between them.

"An interviewer figured out ahead of time what made the man and woman most upset in terms of their relationship and we gave each person a turn to talk about that issue," said Graham.

Researchers measured the levels of cytokines before and after the two visits and used linguistic software to determine the percentage of certain types of words from a transcript of the conversation.

The researchers' results suggest that people who used more cognitive words during the fight showed a smaller increase in the Il-6 and TNF-alpha. Cognitive words used during the neutral discussion had no effect on the cytokines.

When they averaged the couples' cognitive words during the fight, they found a low average translated into a steeper increase in the husbands' Il-6 over time. There were no effects on the TNF-alpha. However, neither couple's nor spouse's cognitive word use predicted changes in wives' Il-6, or TNF-alpha levels for either wives or husbands.

Graham speculates that women may be more adept at communication and perhaps their cognitive word use had a bigger impact on their husbands. Wives were also more likely than husbands to use cognitive words.

Other researchers in the study include Timothy J. Loving, assistant professor, University of Texas at Austin; Jeffrey R. Stowell, assistant professor, Eastern Illinois University; and William B. Malarkey, professor of internal medicine, Ohio State University College of Medicine.

The National Institutes of Health funded this work.

Amitabh Avasthi | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

nachricht Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Chronic stress induces fatal organ dysfunctions via a new neural circuit

21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Scientists from the MSU studied new liquid-crystalline photochrom

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>