Stress, DNA Health & Aging

By Mark Lundegren

It is well-understood that chronic stress is associated with premature aging.

We can observe this phenomenon for ourselves and scientists now understand some, though not all, of the mechanisms by which physical, physiological, and psychological stressors accelerate the cellular and tissue degeneration that accompanies all forms of aging. Perhaps best understood of these mechanisms are the effects of stress-response hormones such as adrenaline, which have been shown to alter and impair physiological functioning and anatomical integrity when they chronically (and thus unnaturally) circulate at high levels.

Visible stress effects after 2.5 years as U.S. President

A new study published in Molecular Psychiatry by Duke University scientists sheds added light on what may prove to be an equally important mechanism for turning chronic stress into unnatural degeneration and aging – a reduction in DNA integrity, resulting in an inability of cells throughout the body to reproduce properly over time.

Stress Effects on DNA Health

In the new correlational study, summarized widely in the health press this month, a cohort of 236 mothers was tracked for five years and asked periodically to assess their children’s exposure to violence (and thus heightened stress) in the form of domestic abuse, physical maltreatment, and bullying.

Following a pattern identified in earlier research, the new study showed that significantly reduced telomere length resulted in those children most exposed to violence in their environment. Telomeres are the tips of our DNA molecules and are known to play an important role in healthy cell reproduction. Telomeres naturally shorten with each cell division until cells are no longer able to divide properly (when they are removed by the body – see our NaturaLife post on Zombie Cells for more info).

Importantly, telomere length and integrity have been shown in research to be a predictor of longevity and are a key area of research into human anti-aging therapies. Although the new study does not show the causal mechanism by which a violent and stressful environment causes telomere atrophy, researchers estimated that the observed reductions in telomere length in the children exposed to significant and sustained violence translated into a lifespan reduction of  7-10 years, based on comparisons with peer norms.

The importance of preventing unnatural chronic stress and ensuring telomere health is a recurring theme for HumanaNatura and our NaturaLife posts. If you would like to learn more, check out our blog posts Gains In Aging Research and Living Without Unhealthy Stress, as well as our popular article Living Longer in the HumanaNatura Article Library.

Taking Action Today

If you are ready to take definitive steps to address unhealthy and life-shortening chronic stress, in your life and in the lives of others in your care and influence, you can begin to systematically eliminate all of your chronic personal and environmental stressors and risks of accelerated aging through HumanaNatura’s four science-based natural health techniques –  Natural EatingNatural ExerciseNatural Living, and Natural Communities.

Together, these four important techniques form the core of HumanaNatura’s revolutionary natural health system and are explained in detail in our comprehensive Personal Health Program. If you want to start by learning more about HumanaNatura and your opportunities for progressive modern natural life and health, go to The Four HumanaNatura Techniques.

Photo courtesy of CNN Presidential Aging.


Mark Lundegren
 is the founder of HumanaNatura.

Tell others about HumanaNatura…encourage new life and health! 

  1. #1 by mlundegren on July 13, 2012 - 07:29

    Related research on psychological stress and telomere length http://bodyodd.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/07/12/12708802-high-anxiety-might-make-you-age-faster

  2. #2 by mlundegren on February 20, 2013 - 09:33

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