Posts Tagged Accelerated Aging
by: Lisa Garber
August 3, 2012
People with mild, subclinical levels of psychological distress are 29 percent more likely to have an early death due to health or injury-related reasons than are those without distress, according to new British research. Researchers studied mental health surveys given to 68,000 adult participants in addition to their mortality data. Of scrutinized individuals, those with psychological distress—even mild anxiety—had a greater risk of dying prematurely.
Participants with highest levels of psychological distress were 41 percent more likely to die from cancer or related complications. Causes of early death were not limited to poor coping methods or hypertension and heart disease, as is conventionally believed, however.
Early Death and the Biological Responses to Distress
Individuals in high-stress environments often cope in unhealthy ways—with poor eating habits, alcoholism, drug abuse, sedentary lifestyles, and the like. Study author Dr. David Batty of the University College London, however, factored in these elements and found unchanged results. He claims that the increased mortality in his study “is not simply due to people with higher levels of psychological distress having poor health behaviors.”
So, how can psychological distress shorten your life? Researchers believe stress may trigger biological changes in the body, making them prone to diabetes and heart disease. Fatty plaques in already narrow arteries may rupture due to spikes in adrenaline and other stress-related chemicals in the body, leading to stroke or heart attacks.
In another recent study, Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that accelerated aging could be a result of chronic anxiety due to faster shortening of the telomere, which has been linked to DNA changes possibly contributing to other chronic diseases like cancer and dementia.
Stress Can Increase Accident-Related Deaths
What’s more, raised anxiety levels and mental disquiet were associated with non-health-related causes like accidents and injuries. Dr. Christopher Cove of University of Rochester Medical Center in NY says that psychological distress can distract people—even in everyday situations like driving home from the office—and lead them to untimely ends.
The Quiet Killer
Individuals with blatantly high stress levels can modify their lifestyles and seek emotional therapy, but those with mild psychological distress—about a quarter of the adult population according to Dr. Tom Russ of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland—will show limited symptoms and not receive treatment.
Everyone can benefit from a healthy diet, moderate exercise, and stress management skills. The next time a friend has a Groupon for a yoga class, you might want to take him or her up on it, as yoga for depression and anxiety is just one strategy for de-stressing and avoiding early death.
by: Kelsey Coy
July 17, 2012
Recent research from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston suggests that chronic panic, phobia and similar anxiety disorders may lead to accelerated aging by shortening telomeres, the DNA-protein complexes whose lengths serves as biomarkers of cells’ biological ages.
Chronic Anxiety Could Result in Accelerated Aging
In the study, telomere length was analyzed in 5,243 randomly selected women, 42 to 69 years of age. High phobic anxiety, as measured by the Crown-Crisp Experiential Index, was associated with shorter telomeres, even after accounting for additional factors known to affect telomere length such as paternal age-at-birth, smoking history, body-mass-index and physical activity. Researchers noted that the magnitude of difference in telomere length in the most phobic women corresponded to six years mored aged than average.
Earlier studies have demonstrated the link between chronic stress and accelerated telomere shortening– and consequent biological accelerated aging, but this is the first to so specifically examine anxiety’s role in the process. Accelerated telomere shortening has also been linked to DNA damage that may contribute to cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and dementia.
In their discussion of this phenomenon, the authors of this study emphasize that “phobic anxiety is treatable; thus, any potential impacts on telomere shortening may be amenable to prevention through early identification and treatment.”
There is certainly more investigation to be done in terms of fully understanding this process, its potential consequences and its potential treatments, but it is fairly safe to say that the amelioration of anxiety disorders, the most common mental illness in the U.S., currently affecting 18% of the adult population and more children than ever before, merits our attention.
Rather than feed our anxiety epidemic with this new information, why not slow down, take a deep breath, and consider adding yoga for depression and anxiety? You can also try forest bathing, or simply known as a walk in the woods. Surely the six years you stand to gain will be worth it. Additionally, there are numerous methods to prevent aging – all you must do is recognize them and implement them in your daily life. Accelerated aging can be prevented – you just have to know how to do it!