May increase susceptibility to inflammatory diseases such as allergic, autoimmune or cardiovascular diseases
Chronic stress not only makes people more vulnerable to catching illnesses but can also impair their immune systems ability to respond to its own anti-inflammatory signals that are triggered by certain hormones, say researchers, possibly altering the course of an inflammatory disease. This finding is reported on in the November issue of Health Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).
Chronic stress seems to impair the immune systems capacity to respond to glucocorticoid hormones that normally are responsible for terminating an inflammatory response following infection and/or injury, according to researchers Gregory E. Miller, Ph.D., of Washington University and colleagues. To examine what happens to peoples immune systems during on-going stressful situations, the researchers compared 25 healthy parents with children undergoing treatment for pediatric cancer with 25 healthy parents with healthy children on measures of mental health, effects of social support and certain immune system responses. All the parents had blood drawn at the initial session and salivary cortisol samples taken at intermittent times over two days.
Pam Willenz | EurekAlert!
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