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Mind-Body Connection

August 4, 2008

Scientists have discovered a key to the mind-body connection.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Stress on your genes….I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

We all know stress isn’t good for us, but now researchers have discovered how stress increases our vulnerability to illnesses. Immunologist Rita Effros of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA says a hormone called cortisol helps us get through stressful events. But the chronic stress of modern life can keep our cortisol levels too high, and that’s bad for us.

RITA EFFROS (David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA):
We put cortisol in a dish with human white blood cells and we measured something called telomerase. And we found that cortisol actually inhibited the white blood cells’ ability to turn on telomerase.

HIRSHON:
She says telomerase repairs the ends of chromosomes every time our cells divide. Without it, chronically stressed people are more susceptible to disease. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.