Research Links Stress to Increase in Inflammation and Swelling.
A team at Carnegie Mellon University has found long-term psychological stress may be linked to increased inflammation, swelling. The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows chronic stress decreases the body’s ability to regulate inflammation. Many diseases are linked to inflammation, including stroke and heart disease. The study found those under serious long-term stress had less ability to control the hormone cortisol. Previous research has found those with chronic stress suffer from more common colds, leading researchers to question if the immune system was hindered by increased cortisol production.
The study group included 276 health adults. The group completed an intensive stress interview and was then exposed to a virus causing the common cold. After a five-day quarantine, they were monitored to see if the virus caused an infection.
In Cohen’s first study, 276 healthy adults completed an intensive stress interview and were then exposed to a virus that causes the common cold and monitored in quarantine for five days for signs of infection and illness. Those under long-term stress were more likely to have fallen ill with the virus.
It was found that experiencing a prolonged stressful event was associated with the inability of immune cells to respond to hormonal signals that normally regulate inflammation. In turn, those with the inability to regulate the inflammatory response were more likely to develop colds when exposed to the virus.
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