Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Caregiving: Lymphocyte Low Rider

Watching TV commercials, if your hair has ‘split ends’ your life is at a crossroads. OMG, what if anyone notices that your ‘telomeres’ are frayed? <grin>


Chronic Stress Can Steal Years

From Caregivers' Lifetimes


·     … three-decade-long program at Ohio State investigating the links between psychological stress and a weakened immune status.


·     … effects of chronic stress can be seen both at the genetic and molecular level in chronic caregivers' bodies.


·     Caregivers also differed dramatically with the control group on psychological surveys intended to measure depression, a clear cause of stress.


·     “Those symptoms of depression in caregivers were twice as severe as those apparent among the control group,” Kiecolt-Glaser said.


·     “Caregivers also had fewer lymphocytes,” Glaser said, “a very important component of the immune system. They also showed a higher level of cytokines, molecules key to the inflammation response, than did the control group.” 


·     Other experiments showed that the actual telomeres in blood cells of caregivers were shorter than those of the controls, and that the level of the telomerase repair enzyme among caregivers was also lower.


·     Kiecolt-Glaser said that there is ample epidemiological data showing that stressed caregivers die sooner than people not in that role.


·     “Now we have a good biological reason for why this is the case,” she said. “We now have a mechanistic progression that shows why, in fact, stress is bad for you, how it gets into the body and how it gets translated into a bad biological outcome.”


·     Much of the Ohio State work is now shifting to studies on how to intervene with that stress in hopes of slowing the weakening of the immune system in highly stressed people.


Lymphocyte Low Rider, Patrick Leer





  1. Thank you for sharing this. Yes....I sure do see the break down in my husband. I feel bad for him.

  2. These are new words to me... I'm glad they can explain what stress does to the body. I can certainly understand why most people would shy away from being the caregiver. I think that makes the caregiver a hero, one who will likely die before non-caregivers due to personal sacrifices and losses. It doesn't get better, does it? Unless you are looking at the eternity factor. bea


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