Stress less, age less: Study finds stress accelerates immune aging

Everyone ages, but some better than others. Researchers say stress plays a big factor in how well, or poorly we age. Here are a few things you can do to help the aging process.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Everyone ages, however, some age better than others. Now, researchers are looking into what’s behind the disparities and how to promote healthy aging for everyone.

Cancer, heart disease, pneumonia — as our age goes up, so does our risk for these diseases. But why do older adults of the same age have drastically different health outcomes? Researchers have narrowed down the culprit to stress.

Christopher Lowry, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Colorado Boulder, explains, “One part of the stress response is linked to how our immune system responds. Excessive amounts of inflammation in response to stress can have negative outcomes.”

Meaning some are more likely to have poor health as they age. Researchers at the University of Southern California say it’s true for those who have more stress have a poor diet and exercise less. They also found something called CMV. It may be a target for intervention. Just like shingles and chickenpox, CMV is a virus that is dormant most of the time.

“It persists in our bodies at very low levels and generates very, very strong, very potent responses.” Explains Louis Picker, MD, Oregon Health & Science University.

Especially when a person is experiencing high stress. Controlling CMV was found to limit the connection between stress and unhealthy aging, giving everyone a better chance to age gracefully.

The University of Southern California researchers believe widespread CMV vaccination could be a simple and effective way to reduce the negative effects stress has on aging.