Stress May Increase Inflammation and the Diseases Associated Therewith

Stress May Increase Inflammation and the Diseases Associated Therewith

Prior posts have noted that for toxic torts causation is the central focus, and that it is very difficult to prove. Prior posts have also noted that the makeup of the bacteria in one's GI tract can have a major influence on generating inflammation; a healthy diet can modify the makeup of these bacteria and thus decrease inflammation. Inflammation, of course, is important because it has been linked to a number of diseases (e.g., heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and depression, among others). Thus, as has been noted in the past, when a plaintiff alleges certain types of physical harm from whatever, looking at inflammation as an alternative explanation (and the various factors adding to inflammation) may provide an alternative explanation.

Research has now found that stress (e.g., "fretting", excessive worrying, competition) can cause the production of two proteins that cause inflammation (proinflammatory cytokines). [For an overview of cytokines, see Cytokines in Wikipedia.] Thus, ironically, it is not an urban myth that stress poses a biological risk. As we are learning more and more, there are links between mental states and health outcomes.

Researchers asked 122 young, healthy adults to keep a diary of all positive and negative social interactions for eight days, and also incidents that involved competition. Several days later fluid samples were collected from each from the inner cheeks. Analyses showed that those with the most negative interactions and those with stressful competition in work or academic pursuits, had substantially higher levels of one of two inflammatory proteins (TNF receptor 2) than those who reported fewer incidents. Those reporting stressful competition for another's attention had higher concentrations of another inflammatory protein, Interleukin-6.

The volunteers than underwent a stressful test in which they did arithmetic calculations in their heads and gave a brief speech before strangers. People who reported the most negative interactions earlier in the week again showed high levels of both inflammatory proteins.

The report can be found at:

 Stress at Work

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