JAN 25, 2024 9:00 AM PST

Stress Linked to Inflammation and Metabolic Syndrome

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

New research published in the journal Brain, Behavior, & Immunity – Health has shown that stress, which is a cause of inflammation throughout the body, is linked to the development of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that together raise the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The conditions that comprise metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood sugar, and excessive fat around the waist.

The study linking metabolic syndrome to stress included data from almost 650 adults in the United States with a mean age of 52 years. For the study, participants’ perceived stress was measured along with inflammatory biomarkers and metabolic health markers. Previous studies have shown that perceived stress is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome, and chronic stress has also been linked to systemic inflammation. This study sought to determine whether stress may cause metabolic syndrome through inflammation.

The results showed that perceived stress had a definite relationship with the development of metabolic syndrome. Additionally, inflammation caused by stress explained over half of the connection between stress and metabolic syndrome. Other factors that may explain the connection include how stress can contribute to or be related to other factors that negatively affect health, such as lack of physical activity, poor eating habits, poor sleep, and smoking.

The authors noted that many people think stress is only a mental health problem. However, stress, and particularly chronic stress, can have a serious impact on physical health. Taking steps to manage stress can therefore have mental and physical benefits, including possibly reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Common methods for reducing stress include exercising regularly, eating a healthful diet, maintaining social connections, participating in mindfulness practices such as meditation and yoga, and getting enough sleep.

Sources: Brain, Behavior, & Immunity – Health, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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