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Researchers discover HOW stress can make people sick

Posted by Sharon W on 6/30/03 at 18:01 (123240)

Good news! Researchers have finally figured out HOW stress makes you sick (-- now maybe they can start working on figuring out how to keep it from happening!)



Check out the link, below (excerpts follow):



by Kiecolt-Glaser and her husband, Ronald Glaser

WASHINGTON - It's no surprise that constant stress can make people sick, and now a team of researchers has figured out how.

'A study focused on 119 men and women who were taking care of spouses with dementia. The health of the caregivers was compared with that of 106 people of similar ages who were not living under the stress of constant care giving.'

'Blood tests showed that a chemical called Interleukin-6 sharply increased in the blood of the stressed caregivers compared with blood of the others in the test. Previous studies have associated IL-6 with several diseases, including heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, type-2 diabetes and certain cancers.'

'The study also found the increase in IL-6 can linger in caregivers for as long as three years after a caregiver had ceased that role because of the spouse's death.'

'This really makes a link to why chronic stress can actually kill people,' said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychology and psychiatry at Ohio State University. 'We haven't had a good mechanism before.'
She explained that people under stress tend to respond by doing things that can increase their levels of IL-6.

'The findings by the research group, headed by Kiecolt-Glaser and her husband, Ronald Glaser, a professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio State, appear in this week's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.'

Re: Researchers discover HOW stress can make people sick

marie on 6/30/03 at 18:42 (123246)

Thanks Sharon.

Finally someone has got something figureed out that we sick folks have known for years. I think stress has affected many Americans. We seem to add all this technology and machines etc to make our lives easier.....but I think it only makes us more stressed. Well I am off to our cabin....no internet, cable tv or a dishwasher,,,All i know is that I always feel better out there.

Thanks again Sharon! You're such a sweet heart for sharing this with us.


Re: Researchers discover HOW stress can make people sick

Suzanne D on 6/30/03 at 21:04 (123271)

One of my daughters has always gotten sick right before or after a major event in her life. And, true to form, she came down with strep throat two days before her wedding in April. Knowing her patterns, I made sure she went to acute care the night she started feeling bad, and she was able to get on antibiotics and get better fairly quickly. But stress really has always made her sick.

This was an interesting article, Sharon! Thanks for always keeping us informed.
Suzanne :)

Re: Researchers discover HOW stress can make people sick

Richard, C.Ped on 7/01/03 at 08:10 (123291)

Its the wondering how I am going to afford another child that stresses me out every so often. :-)

Re: Researchers discover HOW stress can make people sick

Kathy G on 7/01/03 at 08:21 (123295)


My husband, the easy-going, unflappable type, amazed me when some years ago he admitted that when I was pregnant with our second child, he would occasionally panic at the thought of being responsible for another child. He said that everything just kind of fell into place and I can attest that we didn't starve or do without any neccessities! So don't raise your IL-6 levels! :D

Re: Researchers discover HOW stress can make people sick

Kathy G on 7/01/03 at 08:25 (123296)

My mother would get a migraine headache after going through a period of stress. One time she was the co-chairman of the big church fair. Her partner decided it was more than she could handle so she just wimped out, leaving my mother holding the bag. While others pitched in, ultimately everything was my mother's decision. Everything went beautifully, but she got a migraine headache that lasted three days!

Re: Researchers discover HOW stress can make people sick

Richard, C.Ped on 7/01/03 at 09:26 (123312)

Thanx Kathy. I went through the same thing with our first. Having that experience of knowing everything will be ok helps, but since my wife is going to quit working in order to stay home with the kids tends to send me in panic ever so often. haha. So if there are any more doctors out there who need outstanding pedorthic lab services, give me a call!!!! (shamless marketing plug....sorry about that...LOL.

Re: Researchers discover HOW stress can make people sick

BevN. on 7/01/03 at 12:11 (123329)


The very best advice I can give to you is to go out and get Dr. Dobson's book 'Bringing Up Boys' , he also has it in tapes to just to listen to in the car to and from work . We took the video series class put on by our youth pastor at church and it was great. We are grandparents and I learned so much about bringing up our grandchildren (and grandsons)and also bringing up grampa too :)) Be sure to read the book before your 'son' is born as it starts at birth .My daughter has 2 little boys and she has listened to the tapes in the car over and over(she has an accounting job one day a week that is a long drive ) plus she and her husband took the class too . All of Dr. Dobson's books are great . Don't worry about the $$ for another child, all they need is lots of lovin' and hand-me-downs. opps, can't do that, you have a girl,gotta think of something else:)) Have a good day :) Bev

Re: Researchers discover HOW stress can make people sick

Richard, C.Ped on 7/01/03 at 12:15 (123331)

that sounds good Bev. I like quite a bit of what James Dobson has to say. right now, we buy our daughters clothes from good ole wal-mart. she has a few toys, but mostly she stands on the fireplace hearth with one of my old microphones singing to us. a star in the making???? lol.

Re: About Interlukin-6

Sharon W on 7/01/03 at 12:25 (123333)

Interlukin-6 is produced by many types of immune system cells. It mediates the strongest (acute) part of the immune system response to an invader or a threat. It also enhances the production of B cells, the white blood cells that direct the body's chemical messengers to activate various parts of the immune system response. It enhances the production of immunoglobulins, a family of closely related (but not identical) proteins capable of acting as antibodies to protect the body from invasion.

Of course, that antigen/antibody interaction produces a lot of INFLAMMATION... which might help to explain why our foot problems seem to flare up when we're under stress (in fact, usually at the WORST possible moment!)


Re: Researchers discover HOW stress can make people sick

Dorothy on 7/01/03 at 17:48 (123370)

I think you will find what people have found out for generations: babies and children don't really 'need' all the 'stuff'; they need (IMHO) two good parents who love and care about each other and about the children. I don't know your circumstances but many folks just do what they have to do - mothers nurse, which is not only better for the baby, but is economical, to boot; if enough suitable clothing is a problem, garage sales, thrift stores, hand-me-downs from friends and relatives; diapers - well, I think cloth diapers are far more economical than disposable and I am also convinced (although the disposable diaper folks keep trying to convince otherwise) that they are better in so many other ways. When the time comes, get a cheap blender and make your own baby food. Use the public library for books and 'enrichment' activities - and in general use your and your family creativity and inner resources to rear a child, not just calculate the cost. If you already have a child, then you probably have lots of what you need in terms of material goods. It is a little scarey to think of going from two incomes to one, especially when the wider economy seems to precarious, but take a deep breath and realize what your strengths are and your abilities to get through whatever you need to get through. And one hopes that you will 'get through' it having a lot of fun and joy and gratitude. Adapting and being flexible are very important life skills, as you no doubt know very well already.

Re: Richard...

Suzanne D on 7/01/03 at 21:04 (123383)

She could be a performer in the making, RIchard! As a young child, I lined up my dolls and played school. I'm STILL in first grade many years later...;)

Take care,
Suzanne :)

Re: Researchers discover HOW stress can make people sick

Carole C in NOLA on 7/02/03 at 08:40 (123415)

Richard, Dorothy is really right. Many years ago I worried about that before having my daughter, and I asked a friend how much I should budget for a baby. She told me that taking care of a baby costs as much as you want it to cost. That was really true.

If you don't have one, buy your baby the safest car seat you can find. Then make sure your medical insurance payments are up to date. After you do that, don't worry. Everything will work out.

Carole C

Re: Researchers discover HOW stress can make people sick

Richard, C.Ped on 7/02/03 at 09:43 (123422)

We actually have three car seats now because there are so many babies in our family. I only worry because this is our slow season for business. If this offends anyone, I'm sorry, but I know I should not worry. The good Lord is going to take care of us and give us exactly what we need.

Re: Researchers discover HOW stress can make people sick

Carole C in NOLA on 7/02/03 at 11:16 (123434)

I am so glad that you have three car seats! Now, if you have insurance to cover your baby's birth, it sounds to me like you are all set.

The best is free... your baby's first smile, his cooing, learning to walk, talk, and read, and his discovery of the beauties of nature, flowers, doggies, the joy of chasing a butterfly, and this kind of thing. Having a baby is a celebration of life, and a way in which we can re-discover so many of the simple joys that we may have forgotten with the stresses of adult life.

It's not at all offensive to hear that this is the slow season for C.Ped business. I wonder why it is slow? You'd think that more people would get PF in the summer, because of all the unathletic people who are suddenly out doing summer sports. Believe me, those of us who have been to a good C.Ped are GLAD that there are some of you out there willing to take our money when we need help. If anything, I felt that I was undercharged by my C.Ped considering her time and effort in helping me, and her considerable expertise.

You are right. As long as you can continue your work, you truly DO have everything you need. With your wife quitting work, there may be a little belt-tightening and budget adjustment required, and you may not be able to afford as many luxuries as before. But as I'm sure you know also, the miracle of having a new little person in your household is an amazing experience!

Carole C