According to a recent study, chronic stress is not only bad for your health, it might actually cause you to age more rapidly, especially if you're female. The study found that women who were under significant amounts of stress for long periods of time had lower levels of a crucial aging-regulating hormone in their blood than a low-stress control group.
The researchers focused on a hormone called klotho, which regulates some of the physical aspects of the aging process and facilitates cognition. Klotho has been shown in studies on mice and worms to enhance longevity when levels are normal. A deficiency in klotho, on the other hand, is associated with markers of premature aging.
The researchers compared 90 women who were in high-stress caretaking positions for people on the autism spectrum with 88 low-stress controls. The women were in their 30s and 40s and had no other major health problems. The researchers found that the chronically stressed women had significantly lower blood levels of klotho than the control group. This was especially true for stressed women who also exhibited signs of clinical depression. The study also found that klotho levels only decreased with age in the stressed group.
This study is especially significant because it is the first to show a relationship between psychological factors and klotho levels.
"Our results suggest that klotho, which we now know is very important to health, could be a link between chronic stress and premature disease and death," lead author Aric Prather of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), said in a statement.
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