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Study Unravels Link Between Stress and Chronic Health Issues

Anger, anxiety increase inflammation and disease vulnerability, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 23, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- People's emotional response to challenges may affect how their body reacts to stress, according to a new study.

To reach that conclusion, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh had individuals make a speech in a laboratory in front of a video camera and a panel of judges. The participants' physical responses were monitored during the speech, and they were later asked about the emotions they felt while delivering the speech.

Those who reported high levels of anger and anxiety after their speech had greater increases in a marker of inflammation called interleukin-6, compared with those who remained relatively calm.

The findings may explain why some people with high levels of stress experience chronic health problems, the researchers said.

The study is published in the February issue of the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

"Our results raise the possibility that individuals who become angry or anxious when confronting relatively minor challenges in their lives are prone to increases in inflammation," Anna Marsland, an associate professor of psychology and nursing and the study's lead author, said in a journal news release.

"Over time, this may render these emotionally reactive individuals more vulnerable to inflammatory diseases, such as cardiovascular disease," she noted.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about stress and how to manage it.

SOURCE: Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, news release, Feb. 17, 2011
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