There is now conclusive evidence that stress can actually shorten your life and make the life you’re living a less healthy and prosperous one. A newer study has followed various people with different degrees of stress in their lives – namely their jobs were the source of their stress, and looked at some key factors that have to do with both longevity and health.
These factors can also determine how apt you may be to get certain diseases like cancer and diabetes, heart disease and other potentially life threatening or shortening diseases. The main factor reviewed in the study was related to telomeres, which are the sections of the DNA that wear away and get shorter with time.
As we age, these telomeres actually shorten. They essentially can reflect how likely it is that we will live to a certain age, and they wear down more and more the more stress we have in our lives. This all suggests that stress levels directly contribute to DNA damage and DNA aging, which is the shortening of these important pieces of our DNA.
The telomeres also serve as protection mechanisms for our strands of DNA – the bodyguard of this important genetic building block if you will. They protect against wear and tear and keep our DNA in working order and dictating how our body works and whether it functions effectively.
As the DNA strands get damaged with age (and stress), they tend to mess up the direction they are giving the rest of the body. They can mutate and cause errors in the genetic code which can lead to a variety of life threatening and life altering diseases and disabilities.
Not only does this DNA damage caused by stress wear away at one’s psyche, health, happiness and well being, but it also causes our bodies to age much faster and to become more susceptible to dysfunction, thereby shortening our life span.
What’s the lesson in all this? A high stress job or lifestyle just isn’t worth it. While it is true that moderate stress is actually good for us because it propels us to better ourselves and to think outside the box, evolve and grow as a person, chronic and serious stress can have devastating consequences on the body.