HEALTHY LIVING
03/17/2013 11:16 pm ET

Dwelling On Stress Could Spur Inflammation, Study Finds

As hard as it is, it's so vitally important not to dwell on stressful things -- it could raise your body's inflammation, according to a small new study.

Researchers from Ohio University found that levels of a protein that rise in response to inflammation, called C-reactive proteins, increase when a person is asked to think about a negative and stressful event.

The study, which will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society, included 34 women who were healthy. The women were instructed to give a speech to two interviewers, who wore lab coats and didn't show any expressions on their faces, about why they were deserving of a job (an objectively stressful experience!).

After their speeches, half the study participants were asked to ruminate about how well they did on their speech, while the other half of the participants were asked to ruminate on neutral things, like going to the grocery store.

Researchers drew blood samples from both groups of the study participants, and found that those asked to ruminate on their speech had higher levels of C-reactive protein than those who were asked to ruminate about neutral things.

Plus, for people who ruminated on the speech, the levels of C-reactive protein rose for an hour or more after they gave the speech. But for those who ruminated on neutral subjects, their C-reactive protein levels decreased and went back to a normal level an hour after giving the speech.

Because the findings have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, they should be considered preliminary. However, it's important to understand potential risk factors for inflammation because it has been linked with a number of health problems, including depression, heart disease and even cancer.

HuffPost blogger Dr. Andrew Weil perhaps explains inflammation the best:

nflammation is the cornerstone of the body's healing response. It is the process by which the immune system delivers more nourishment and more defensive activity to an area that is injured or under attack. But inflammation is so powerful and so potentially destructive that it must stay where it is supposed to be and end when it is supposed to end; otherwise it damages the body and causes disease.

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