Stress and the Damage of Aging

Stress speeds some modes of age-related decline, probably via the mechanisms of chronic inflammation: "Responses to stress anticipate adaptation to an unacceptable disparity between real or imagined personal experience and expectation, including adaptive stress, anxiety, and depression. However, if stress persists, it may lead to chronic diseases, ranging from inflammation and cancer to degenerative diseases. For some time, only remarkable stress was acknowledged to induce immune and vascular alterations, such as infection or hypertension. Now it is known that moderate stress independent of conventional risk factors can induce a potent alteration of health conditions and consequently shorten life quality and lifespan. ... Stressful life conditions turn out to induce a diffuse (systemic) pro-inflammatory status. Subclinical chronic inflammation is an important pathogenic factor in the development of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of common pathologies, including cardiovascular disease." As for other lifestyles that induce chronic inflammation, you can wait (and suffer) while researchers build drugs that block the mechanisms at fault, or you work to change your circumstances to cause less damage over the long run.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/rej.2008.0667

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