Mind Body Healing: Stress can Make You Grow Old Faster
Posted Jul 29 2008 9:31am
Life can be stressful. Just ask the teachers who come to see me for relief from a variety of muscular pain problems including headaches, back and neck pain. The pain seems to follow the school year. It grows steadily as the semester progresses and then subsides over the glorious summer break.
Yes, stress can cause pain and even illness. Some of those poor stressed out souls also tend to get every cold and flu that comes along, despite dutifully washing their hands.
Now some new research out of the University of California indicates that stress can also make you age faster. The key is the link between a hormone called cortisol and a part of the cell called a telomere.
Cortisol is secreted by a couple of small glands located on top of your kidneys known as the adrenal glands. Cortisol is secreted in response to stress. Too much cortisol can have some nasty effects on the body including increased weight gain, heart disease and immune system suppression.
Telomeres are located deep inside your cells. They act in part as tiny clocks that preserve the cell. The enzyme telomerase helps to preserve the length of the telomeres and keep the cell dividing.
Cortisol has a negative effect on telomerase causing the cells to age faster. So, stress causes increased cortisol which has a negative aging effect on your cells.
When your cells get older, you get older. Just look at how some people seem to age quicker when under periods of stress (like having children or getting a degree).
One key to staying young then would be to monitor your body's stress and work to decrease it. There are many techniques for this like exercise, guided imagery, meditation, and just plain ole time management.