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Let’s Talk About Stress—and Stress Research

Director’s Page Helene M. Langevin, M.D.

July 26, 2022

Stress is a part of life for everyone, and when it comes in short bursts, it’s not necessarily bad. Our natural “fight-or-flight” response can help us mobilize our resources to meet a challenge. But when stress persists (chronic stress), it can lead to both mental and physical health problems.

In fact, longstanding evidence from multiple areas of research demonstrates that chronic stress acts like a toxin, permeating our organs and cells and triggering a negative cascade on our hormones, sleep, muscles, metabolism, immune system, and inflammatory responses. Chronic systemic inflammation is emerging as a key factor underlying more than half of all deaths from chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and nonalcoholic fatty liver.

With funding from NCCIH, a group of researchers led by Dr. Lori Scott-Sheldon, who was then with The Miriam Hospital in Rhode Island, performed a series of systematic reviews on stress management for people with chronic diseases. The reviews looked at both psychological and physical effects of the interventions, and their findings were promising. For example:

To read the reviews click here


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