WELLNESS
01/23/2012 06:10 pm ET

Stressful Arguments Linked With Increased Inflammation

Are you an arguer instead of a peacemaker? It could be taking a toll on your health.

A new study shows that negative social interaction, in the form of arguments and personal conflict, can raise inflammation levels, MSNBC reported. The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

MSNBC pointed out that elevated inflammation isn't inherently a bad thing -- it just means that the immune system is ramped up to fight against infection. But if the body is always in a state of inflammation, it can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and depression.

"The message is that the flotsam and jetsam of life predict changes in your underlying biology in ways that cumulatively could have a bad effect on health," study researcher Shelley Taylor, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, told HealthDay.

"What this tells me is that people should be investing in socially supportive relationships, and they should not court relationships that lead to a great deal of conflict," Taylor added.

The study included 122 young men and women who wrote in diaries for eight days, and told of their interactions with others (whether they be negative or positive). They also took stress tests during the study period, as well as gave saliva samples at the beginning and end of the study, HealthDay reported.

Researchers found that levels of inflammation -- determined by looking at levels of signaling molecules called cytokines, which are associated with inflammation -- were increased after people reported having had an argument.

In 2006, a study from Emory University researchers showed that people who have depression are especially prone to increased inflammation after being psychologically stressed. That finding, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that inflammation and depression are linked.

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