Chronic Stress & Its Effect on Ageing
New Research on Stress & Ageing
Women under chronic stress have significantly lower levels of klotho – an enzyme that regulates ageing and enhances cognition – researchers at the University of California in San Francisco have found.
The study, published in Translational Psychiatry in June 2015, included 90 high-stress caregivers and 88 low-stress controls, most of whom were in their 30s and 40s and otherwise healthy.
Klotho is known to decline with age, but in this cross-sectional study of relatively young women, this decline only happened among the high-stress women. The low-stress women did not show a significant reduction in klotho with ageing.
Scientists know from their work in mice and worms that when klotho is disrupted, it promotes symptoms of ageing, such as hardening of the arteries and the loss of muscle and bone, and when klotho is made more abundant, the animals live longer.
"It will be important to figure out if higher levels of klotho can benefit mind and body health as we age," said Dena Dubal, an assistant professor in the UCSF Department of Neurology and senior author of the study. "If so, therapeutics or lifestyle interventions that increase the longevity hormone could have a big impact on people’s lives."
Stress and menopause
From clinical experience, I also find that women who have suffered from prolonged stress tend to suffer more from menopausal symptoms. I hypothesize that due to the adrenal fatigue which comes from prolonged stress, the adrenal glands cannot produce the required levels of oestrogen post-menopause, which is the normal glandular response.
Stress and hormonal imbalance
Stress is also a common trigger for hormonal imbalance due to the negative biofeedback system where all the glands are interconnected. When the adrenals are activated in prolonged stress, the reproductive system automatically begins to shut down. It's an evolutionary throwback where during times of famine and stress, the reproductive capacity of animals reduces to prevent both mother and child from suffering.
Conversely, when stress is well managed through yoga, meditation, exercise, and adequate sleep, levels of DHEA and other anti-ageing hormones increase. Happy Hormones, of course, also works to increase these beneficial anti-ageing hormones.