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Chronic stress

Chronic stress accelerates aging, say scientists

Monday, August 14, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: chronic stress, aging, health news


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(NewsTarget) A University of California, San Francisco psychiatry department review focusing on stress and hormonal shifts' relation to aging found that people who are healthy, active and able to handle chronic stress age better than their peers.

While Elissa Epel, Ph.D. and colleagues said that some hormonal shifts were a normal part of aging, they added things like social isolation, financial stress and bereavement could contribute to chronic stress. This can affect the body's delicate hormone balance, which can, in turn, actually speed the aging process.

"In this way, there may be synergistic effects of aging and chronic stress," the researchers wrote in their study, to be presented tomorrow at the American Psychological Association's 2006 convention in New Orleans.

However, the study noted that older people were not automatically predisposed to increased aging through stress; some were more active, healthier and better able to handle it. This, the researchers said, was a skill people of all ages could benefit from learning.

According to Epel, people can help reduce stress's effect on aging through a variety of techniques such as:

  • Moderate exercise
  • Good sleep
  • Managing your expectations and goals
  • Acceptance not trying to control things you can't
  • Finding meaning
  • Strengthening meaningful social ties
  • Spiritual or religious beliefs
Health experts also note that free radicals can augment the negative effects of aging, and combining exercise with a diet of antioxidant-rich foods such as blueberries and pomegranates can combat these free radicals and provide a variety of other health benefits. In a 2005 NewsTarget article, health advocate Mike Adams said that the old adage "Laughter is the best medicine" rings especially true for those looking to manage stress.

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