Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Stress Contributes To Range Of Chronic Diseases, Review Shows

Date:
October 10, 2007
Source:
Carnegie Mellon University
Summary:
In a review of the scientific literature on the relationship between stress and disease, psychologists has found that stress is a contributing factor in human disease, and in particular depression, cardiovascular disease and HIV/AIDS.

In a review of the scientific literature on the relationship between stress and disease, Carnegie Mellon University psychologist Sheldon Cohen has found that stress is a contributing factor in human disease, and in particular depression, cardiovascular disease and HIV/AIDS.

Cohen's JAMA article was based on a paper commissioned by the Institute of Medicine to examine the evidence that stress influences major diseases. In the JAMA article, the authors consider the behavioral and biological mechanisms through which stress contributes to disease and weigh the results of studies that have examined whether stress plays a role in depression, cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS and cancer. Those studies reveal that stress plays a role in triggering or worsening depression and cardiovascular disease and in speeding the progression of HIV/AIDS.

"The majority of people confronted with even traumatic events remain disease-free. Stress increases your risk of developing disease, but it doesn't mean that just because you are exposed to stressful events, you are going to get sick," said Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon.

According to the authors, the strongest evidence that stress contributes to disease comes from research on depression, which shows that stress is associated with the onset of depression as well as relapse in people who have recovered from it. Cohen said that particular types of stress are the biggest culprits in depression, namely "social stressors" such as divorce and the death of a loved one. Depression also is common among people who have been diagnosed with a serious illness, suggesting that physical disease itself is a stressful event that can lead to depression. On the other hand, chronic stress -- such as stress experienced daily in the workplace -- contributes to cardiovascular illnesses such as coronary heart disease, a relationship that medical studies have clearly demonstrated, Cohen said.

Results of research on the relationship between stress and HIV/AIDS have been less clear, but since 2000 studies have consistently demonstrated a link between stress and the progression of AIDS. Cohen said that the impact of stress may have become more pronounced in recent years because of the complex and demanding drug regimen that AIDS patients now undergo. He said stress may tax their ability to keep up with their treatment. In the JAMA paper, the authors also note that changes in the autonomic nervous system caused by stress may also contribute to disease progression by influencing the replication of the HIV virus.

"Individuals differ with regard to rate of progression through the successive phases of HIV infection. Some remain asymptomatic for extended periods and respond well to medical treatment, whereas others progress rapidly to AIDS onset, and suffer numerous complications and opportunistic infections. Stress may account for some of this variability in HIV progression," the authors write.

Exactly how stress causes and contributes to disease is a question of particular interest to researchers. Cohen said there are two likely pathways. One is behavioral -- people under stress sleep poorly and are less likely to exercise; they adopt poor eating habits, smoke more and don't comply with medical treatment. Stress also triggers a response by the body's endocrine systems, which release hormones that influence multiple other biological systems, including the immune system.

"Effects of stress on regulation of immune and inflammatory processes have the potential to influence depression, infectious, autoimmune, and coronary artery disease, and at least some (e.g., viral) cancers," the authors write.

Studies on the role of stress in cancer have not been consistent in their results. Researchers who study the influence of stress on the progression of cancer face many hurdles, according to Cohen and his colleagues. Cancer can go undiagnosed for a long time, and its progression is difficult to measure with much precision. There are many types of cancers, and it is possible that stress only influences those facilitated by sustained hormonal response and impairments in immunity.

"We will need additional studies across a broader range of cancers before we can fairly evaluate the role of stress in cancer," Cohen said.

Cohen's findings will be published in the Oct. 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The article was co-authored by Denise Janicki-Deverts of Carnegie Mellon and Gregory E. Miller of the University of British Columbia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Mellon University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Carnegie Mellon University. "Stress Contributes To Range Of Chronic Diseases, Review Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 October 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071009164122.htm>.
Carnegie Mellon University. (2007, October 10). Stress Contributes To Range Of Chronic Diseases, Review Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071009164122.htm
Carnegie Mellon University. "Stress Contributes To Range Of Chronic Diseases, Review Shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071009164122.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) Researchers found an improvement in memory and learning function in subjects who received electric pulses to their brains. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins