Is Stress Really The Silent Killer? Let’s find out!
A meme once said “when asked what surprised him most about humanity answered: Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived. “Although this was a falsely attributed Dalai Lama it does hold some truth.
Many of us try to eat healthy, exercise, get regular health checks and use supplements but many of us trying to make the millions forget the silent killer, STRESS!! According to numerous medical sources, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. Let’s see if that holds true.
Stress & Heart Disease:
There are numerous studies that link stress and heart disease. “Epidemiological data show that chronic stress predicts the occurrence of coronary heart disease (CHD)” (1). A review of 600,000 men from 27 cohort studies in three countries links job stress to an elevated risk of coronary heart disease and stroke (2). “As protective factor or risk factor, psychological factors play an important role in CHD” (3). Stress raises blood pressure temporarily and could raise it long term because stress is also linked to overeating, drinking alcohol and poor sleeping habits (6).
Stress & Cancer:
Case-control study of 257 of women with breast cancer showed an association between major life events such as the stress of daily activity, work stress, depression and breast cancer (4). This paper looks at epidemiological and clinical studies going back 30 years showing strong evidence for “links between chronic stress, depression and social isolation and cancer progression”. (5) Several more also show a correlation here (13), here (14) and here (15).
Stress &Lung Ailments:
“Psychological stress was associated in a dose-response manner with an increased risk of acute infectious respiratory illness, and this risk was attributable to increased rates of infection rather than to an increased frequency of symptoms after infection” (7) In this study researcher saw that it is long-term stressors that take its toll to getting colds and respiratory infections. “Severe chronic stressors (1 month or longer) were associated with a substantial increase in risk of disease” (8). Stress exacerbates asthma attacks in people who already have the ailment (9).
Stress & Accidents:
People going through the stress of divorce associated with an increase in traffic accidents (10) Stress is correlated with lack of sleep. Lack of sleep is connected with memory loss and brain deterioration. Devore et al study concluded extreme sleep durations at midlife, later life and extreme changes in sleep duration over time appear to be associated with poor cognition in older women (17). Chetty et al study showed the chronic long-term stress can change the brain and affect cogitation in a negative way. (16).
Stress & Cirrhosis of the Liver:
Nagano et al found a positive correlation between psychosocial stress and liver injury (11). Tanaka et al also found a link between stress and indicators of cirrhosis (12).
Stress & Suicide:
Stress is correlated with depression and depression is correlated to suicide. Stress can cause unhealthy coping, excess alcohol or drug abuse, hinder relationships and cause you to lash out at others. All of this and then some can cause people to have suicidal tendencies.
Now this was a very study oriented paper and I don’t expect anyone to read them all but doing so will definitely add some crinkles to your brain. Please bear in mind these are educated correlations. There are way too many variables to be controlled and way more research needs to be done. However, when you get stressed do you get any or all of these issues: stomach discomfort, fast breathing, excessively sweaty, headache, trembling, and muscle tension? I do. Logic would dictate that can’t be good.
Now bear in mind there are different types of stress. Eustress (good stress for the body), Neustress (neutral stress) and Distress (bad stress). You will find Eustress when you are doing something motivating and inspiring. Find a career you love, adopt a puppy, planning an exciting trip, meeting new people etc. Distress is what you want to avoid. Working overtime for possessions you don’t really need, having a job and not a career, being around people that make you feel bad. Now sometimes we have to grin and bear a negative situation for a while and that is when exercise, diet and herbal remedies can help but don’t be complacent with distress.
So what do you all think? Is “keeping up with the joneses” worth it? Does the instant gratification of working to get that new car, smartphone or unnecessary luxuries negate the long-term effects of trying to get it? There definitely is a problem if “75% percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints” (19).
(1) M, S. (2016). Stress and cardiovascular disease. – PubMed – NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 27 November 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22473079
(2) Kivimäki, M. & Kawachi, I. (2015). Work Stress as a Risk Factor for Cardiovascular Disease. Current Cardiology Reports, 17(9). doi:10.1007/s11886-015-0630-8
(3) Zohreh Khayyam-Nekouei, G. (2013). Psychological factors and coronary heart disease. ARYA Atherosclerosis, 9(1), 102. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3653260/
(4) HY, K. (2016). Psychological stress and the risk of breast cancer: a case-control study. – PubMed – NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 27 November 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15582263
(5) Moreno-Smith, M., Lutgendorf, S., & Sood, A. (2010). Impact of stress on cancer metastasis. Future Oncology, 6(12), 1863-1881. doi:10.2217/fon.10.142
(6) Stress and high blood pressure: What’s the connection? – Mayo Clinic . (2016). Mayoclinic.org. Retrieved 27 November 2016, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/stress-and-high-blood-pressure/art-20044190
(7) Cohen S, e. (2016). Psychological stress and susceptibility to the common cold. – PubMed – NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 27 November 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1713648
(8) Cohen S, e. (2016). Types of stressors that increase susceptibility to the common cold in healthy adults. – PubMed – NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 27 November 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9619470
(9) Kam, K. (2016). Asthma, Stress, and Anxiety: A Risky Cycle. WebMD. Retrieved 27 November 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/asthma/features/asthma-stress-and-anxiety-a-risky-cycle
(10) Lagarde E, e. (2016). Emotional stress and traffic accidents: the impact of separation and divorce. – PubMed – NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 27 November 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15475727
(11) Nagano J, e. (2016). Psychosocial stress, personality, and the severity of chronic hepatitis C. – PubMed – NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 27 November 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15016922/
(12) Tanaka K, e. (2016). A long-term follow-up study on risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma among Japanese patients with liver cirrhosis. – PubMed – NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 27 November 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10081484/
(13) Steplewski Z, e. (2016). Effects of restraint stress on inoculated tumor growth and immune response in rats. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 27 November 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3928147/
(14) PM, S. (2016). Psychosocial influences on cancer incidence and progression. – PubMed – NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 27 November 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9384968/
(15) JK, K. (2016). Norman Cousins Memorial Lecture 1998. Stress, personal relationships, and immune function: health implications. – PubMed – NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 27 November 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10371678/
(16) Chetty, S., Friedman, A., Taravosh-Lahn, K., Kirby, E., Mirescu, C., & Guo, F. et al. (2014). Stress and glucocorticoids promote oligodendrogenesis in the adult hippocampus. Molecular Psychiatry, 19(12), 1275-1283. doi:10.1038/mp.2013.190