Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Stress substantially slows human body’s ability to heal

06.12.2005


The stress a typical married couple feels during an ordinary half-hour argument is enough to slow their bodies’ ability to heal from wounds by at least one day, a new study has shown.



Moreover, if the couple’s relationship is routinely hostile toward each other, the delay in that healing process can be even doubled. The results of this study have major financial implications for medical centers and health care insurers.

The new study, reported in the current issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, is the latest discovery in a three-decade-long series of experiments underway at the Ohio State University ’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. The work is aimed at identifying and then explaining the ways psychological stress can affect human immunity.


Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, a professor of psychiatry and psychology, and partner Ronald Glaser, a professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics, both at Ohio State, say the findings provide important recommendations for patients facing surgery.

“This shows specifically why it is so important that people be psychologically prepared for their surgeries,” Kiecolt-Glaser explained.

Colleague Glaser added, “We have enough data now from all of our past studies to basically suggest that hospitals need to modify existing practices in ways that will reduce stress prior to surgery.” Both researchers said such stress reduction could lead to shorter hospital stays -- with corresponding lower medical bills -- and a reduced risk of infections among patients.

The researchers focused on a group of 42 married couples who had been together an average of at least 12 years. Each couple was admitted into the university’s General Clinical Research Center for two, 24-hour-long visits. The visits were separated by a two-month interval.

During each visit, both the husband and wife were fitted with a small suction device which created eight tiny uniform blisters on their arms. The skin was removed from each blister and another device placed directly over each small wound, forming a protective bubble, from which researchers could extract fluids that normally fill such blisters.

The husbands and wives also completed questionnaires intended to gauge their level of stress at the beginning of the experiment. Lastly, each person was fitted with a catheter through which blood could be drawn for later analysis.

During the first visit, Kiecolt-Glaser said, each spouse was asked to talk for several minutes about some characteristic or behavior which he or she would like to change. This was a supportive, positive discussion.

“But during the second visit, we asked them to talk about an area of disagreement,” she said, “something that inherently had an emotional element.”

Both discussions were videotaped and those tapes were used to gauge the level of hostility present between the couples. Fluid accumulating at the individual wound sites and peripheral blood samples were also taken from each participant.

When the researchers analyzed the data, the results showed the following:

  • Wounds took a day longer to heal after the arguments than they did after the initial supportive discussion;
  • Couples who showed high levels of hostility needed two days longer for wound-healing, compared to couples whose hostility appeared low.

“Wounds on the hostile couples healed at only 60 percent of the rate of couples considered to have low levels of hostility,” Kiecolt-Glaser said.

Blood samples from those highly hostile couples showed differences as well. The levels of one cytokine – interleukin-6 (IL-6) – increased one-and-a-half times over those in couples considered less hostile.

Cytokines are key elements in the human immune system. They hold a delicate balance in maintaining the right immune response. Increased levels of IL-6 at the site of a wound stimulate the healing process but those same levels circulating throughout the bloodstream is a problem.

Sustained higher-than-normal levels of IL-6 have been linked long-term inflammation which, in turn, is implicated in a host of age-related illnesses. These include cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, type-2 diabetes, certain lymphoproliferative diseases and cancers, Alzheimers disease and periodontal disease, the researchers said.

“In our past wound-healing experiments, we looked at more severe stressful events,” Kiecolt-Glaser said. “This was just a marital discussion that lasted only a half-hour.

“The fact that even this can bump the healing back an entire day for minor wounds says that wound-healing is a really sensitive process.”

Glaser added, “This supports our long-held contention that even small changes in cytokine levels will have a marked effect on health.”

William Malarkey, professor of internal medicine; Stanley Lemeshow, dean of the School of Public Health and director of the Center for Biostatistics, and postdoctoral researchers Tim Loving and Jeff Stowell also worked on the research.

The work was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health.

Janice Kiecolt-Glaser | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New study points the way to therapy for rare cancer that targets the young
22.11.2017 | Rockefeller University

nachricht Penn study identifies new malaria parasites in wild bonobos
21.11.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles

23.11.2017 | Information Technology

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon

23.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>