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Stress and Immunity

By Editor Turkey

Stress-inducing events, such as trauma, workload, daily stressors and exposure to injustice, age the immune system in people, according to a new study.

The immune system increases the risk of infectious diseases such as cancer, heart diseases and corona in aging people. Age-related changes in the immune system play a critical role in declining health. In people with a high stress load, the immune system ages faster and the risk of getting diseases increases. As people age, their immune system naturally declines dramatically, a condition called immune aging. With advancing age, a person’s immune profile weakens and too much worn-out white blood cells are unable to cope with microbial attacks. Immune aging not only increases susceptibility to cancer, but also decreases the effectiveness of vaccines and drugs. In this study, individuals in the same age group are compared. In subjects with different living conditions, the aging of their immune systems is controlled. There are important differences between the immune systems of individuals who are exposed to stress throughout their lives and those who live away from stress. In the study, the living conditions and disease states of 5,744 adult individuals over the age of 50 are examined. Social stress-related situations, including stressful life events, chronic stress, and daily stress, are considered as living conditions. One of the important parameters is exposure to discrimination and injustice. As an indicator of the immune system, blood cells are counted in the blood taken from individuals. It is noteworthy that in people with higher stress scores, lower rates of warrior blood cells were detected, while worn white blood cells increased. Some stressors can be impossible to control. However, reducing stress is important for health. In particular, the improvement of moral values ​​strengthens the immune system.

T cells, a critical component of immunity, mature in a gland called the thymus, located just in front of and above the heart. As people age, the tissue in their thymus shrinks and is replaced by fatty tissue. This causes a decrease in the production of cells that support immunity. In previous studies, it was stated that nutritional conditions and sports activities affect the number of warrior cells. However, stress conditions seem to be more effective on the immune system. However, in older adults, diet and exercise behaviors can reduce stress-induced aging in the immune system. Cases such as shingles or herpes also seem to be more common under stress conditions. These developments support the research results. In countries with high living standards, people can experience disease attacks more easily. In poor countries, the stress conditions that surround people increase the risk of developing cancer, heart diseases, corona and similar infectious diseases at an earlier age. These developments are mostly attributed to the premature aging of the immune system.

Prof. Dr. Harun Baytekin