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OK, Just kidding but this was kind of interesting

Study: Stress ages women's immune cells

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The immune cells of women under extreme mental stress age faster than those in women not facing such pressure, a new study reports.

While previous reports have linked physical effects with stress, the new analysis helps pinpoint an important focus for these problems.

The study focused on the telomeres in the chromosomes of particular immune cells of 58 women between the ages of 20 and 50. Telomeres cap the ends of chromosomes and shorten as cells reproduce, a measure of age. When they reach a minimum level the cells can no longer reproduce.

The report, published in Monday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the telomeres in the cells of women under stress had undergone the equivalent of 10 years of additional aging, compared to women living more normal lives.

"Chronic stress appears to have the potential to shorten the life of cells, at least immune cells," lead author Elissa Epel of the University of California at San Francisco said in a statement.

"The results were striking," added co-author Elizabeth Blackburn, also of UCSF.

The researchers studied 58 women, 19 of whom were mothers of healthy children and 39 who were tending chronically ill children. They reported that "the exact mechanism that connect the mind and the cell are unknown."

The researchers said they will now begin work to see if other types of cells are affected by stress.

Robert M. Sapolsky of Stanford University, who was not part of the research team, called the report "a provocative finding in the best sense of the word."

In a commentary accompanying the report, Sapolsky said the goal now will be to determine how stress is experienced at the physical level.

The research was funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Hellman Family Fund, the University of California at San Francisco, National Institute of Mental Health, National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, Steven and Michele Kirsch Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the Dana Foundation.

Facts about telomeres -


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steph, i heard that report on NPR yesterday...and i'm saying to my mom...look what i've done to you! i'm aging you b/c you are my caregiver! maybe people will take stress more seriously now that there is evidence of actual physical damage to the cells...you know? we are so dismissive in society about stress and it is out of control! thanks for posting and keeping us all on our toes!


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aren't you naughty tricking me to open the link with your jazzy title :) I'd actually read the article on Fark.com the other day. All the more reason for me to continue to practice meditation and do silly stuff that makes me laugh and breaks the tension. :D Nina

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Yeah, I was just thrilled to hear about the stress/aging connection yesterday.

I figure after going through a divorce, remarriage, brain tumor and now dysautonomia my telomeres are proabaly shot and I have aged about 20 years. Lovely.

Seriously it did make me realize how important it is to do some kind of relaxation to reduce the stress. The trauma from illness can create that chronic stress which I always knew was really bad.

It's just very hard not to be stressed. I find it's a constant for me.


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I am just wondering how the researchers know that it is stress causing these changes as opposed to something else -- i.e., an underlying health problem that may also be related to the children's health problems. I think this may be oversimplifying. I'd be interested in ideas.


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Good point. They only tested one group of people, mom's of chronically ill kids. I don't know if they looked at what the moms might have doing to cope with stress during the time their child was sick . Did they drink, smoke,eat the wrong foods etc.. ?

Still, I always feel like I'm hurting my body by being so stressed all the time, I know it has got to be doing somehting to me and that I need to get better at doing relaxation.


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