Stress can cause poor health and make you look exhausted and haggard. Stress is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, poor immune function, premature aging, high blood pressure, obesity and even diabetes. Exactly how stress brings about the early onset of age-related disease is not entirely clear. Many believe that stress increases the rate of aging within the cells themselves.
Cellular aging is associated with oxidative stress, lowered telomerase activity, and shorter telomere lengths. These factors affect the longevity of your body’s cells.
Telomeres are the caps or ends of chromosomes which provide protection and help give stability to the chromosomes. Telomeres are composed of terminal sequences of TTAGGG DNA base units at the ends of all chromosomes that signify the end of chromosomal information. At conception there are approximately 2,500 TTAGGG sequences as “end caps” to chromosomal data.
Telomers are a target of oxidative damage and become damaged and shortened due to the action of free radicals.
Psychological stress itself seems to accelerate the shortening of telomeres. In one study 58 mothers were studied. 19 of the mothers had a healthy child while 39 mothers cared for a chronically ill child. The research found that (adjusted for the age of the mother) the more years of caregiving, the shorter the mother’s telemores, the lower the telomerase activity and the more oxidative stress the mothers experienced. Continue reading