Can Stress kill you? The debate begins

We have always been interested in the link between stress and people developing cancers, auto-immune and other types of diseases. We realise, gentle readers that this is a tricky, complex area. That stress, however you define it, can come from many places. That there are all kinds of people like immunologists, geneticists, psychologists and many others with far more learning than we at LSS possess. All we can say is: we think it is a very, very live subject, so we think it will get bigger in the months and years ahead. And so we are going to run a series of pieces where we look at the matter from different angles. Always we hope with a critical mind and the help of our dear readers and followers in all continents.

Who better to start us off than our old friend Gaynor Lynch of London, whose short piece below has so many talking points that we don’t know where to begin. So here is the piece, and then some key questions.

Gaynor: Stress and cancer. Stress has been recognised by many immunologists as having a significant factor in the onset and progress of autoimmune diseases. The etiology of autoimmune diseases is in many cases is poorly understood but is recognised to be multifactorial: genetic, environmental, hormonal, stress, and immunological. I have a very rare autoimmune disorder. It started when I was in my early teens (hormones) but was not diagnosed until I was an adult when I had a significant breakdown in my health which was triggered by a traumatic event (stress).
Cortisol, the stress hormone, plays havoc with your body. It has a lot of negative impacts including heart disease, increased blood pressure, digestive system problems and very significantly supresses the manufacture of lymphocytes which play a key role in the immune system. They detect, infiltrate and destroy abnormal cells, viruses and bacteria. If your immune system is compromised you may be at risk of developing cancers It doesn’t cause the cancer but effects the bodies ability to detect and kill abnormal cells which then reproduce and lead to a cancer. So stress may not be a direct causal factor of cancer but the stress hormone cortisol definitely impacts on the autoimmune systems ability to deal with abnormal cells.

1 etiology of autoimmune diseases is in many cases is poorly understood Never was a truer statement made! We have known about things like MS for over fifty years. And despite the heroic efforts of a few charities and researchers, our understanding is weak. When you consider what we have been able to do with things like DNA and space science, by comparison

2 Cortisol…..significantly supresses the manufacture of lymphocytes which play a key role in the immune system. We are starting to come across this in our own humble investigations. Why does that worry us?

3 Because: cortisol definitely impacts on the autoimmune systems ability to deal with abnormal cells.

And, as Gaynor points out, you can see where that is going. But is it just cancer?

Obviously, different people respond differently to stress. But as working ours go up (if you have a job) and salaries stagnate, as markets and currencies fluctuate wildly, it looks like we’re all in for more of it, like it or not. So what do you think? Do you know someone who has “worked themselves to death!”, as they say? Or someone who drinks to beat the stress, which only ends up by killing them indirectly? Come on, LSS folk, let’s hear your tales!

#stress #cancer #autoimmunedisease #worklifebalance #trauma

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