Could Stress Be Killing You?

Health Alert 155

Stress is the result of resisting reality1. As we have discussed in previous Health Alerts (HA 39 & HA 47), stress is dangerous to your health. Stress leads to the increased accumulation of cortisol. Increased levels of this hormone are associated with abnormal aging processes.

Today, you will learn about cortisol and its relationship to the stress in your life. I will show you simple steps you can take in order to gain control of your life so that you reduce your stress level and live a longer and healthier life.

* Control Your Stress, Control Your Cortisol *

Your body releases cortisol in response to stressors placed on your body. It effects the regulation of cardiovascular function and blood pressure. It also allows for your body’s use of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Cortisol also allows your body to use fatty acids as a source of energy for your muscles.

While cortisol may be an essential hormone in maintaining your good health, excess cortisol may lead to adverse health conditions. A prolonged increase in cortisol leads to a decrease in brain cells, a reduction of bone density and a loss of vital muscle mass. Excess cortisol, brought on by excess stress will reduce your longevity2.

* Reduce Your Stress, Lengthen Your Life *

Science cannot reduce your stress levels. Yet, we do know that our bodies release cortisol in response to stress. Measuring cortisol levels produces a picture of how your body responds to stress. More accurately, the hormone DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) has the opposite effect of cortisol. Thus, a simple blood test that checks your bodies DHEA level tells us where you stand3.

You can lower cortisol by reducing stress. Apply these simple techniques to lower your stress:

  • Avoid caffeine.

  • Don’t use alcohol as a way to reduce stress.

  • Establish a routine bed-time and stick with it. Get adequate sleep every night.

  • Maintain a consistent and healthy diet.

  • Set realistic goals for yourself.

  • Prioritize what’s on your “to do” list.

  • Get help with time management – over scheduling is a primary cause of stress.

  • Learn to say “no.”

  • Physical exercise (without over doing it) can help reduce stress.

  • Talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling.

  • Get a massage.

  • Meditate.

The most important step towards managing stress is to remember that controlling one’s own reaction is often more important than controlling the situation.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears MD

1. Sands, M. (July 2002) Stress is the Result of Resisting Reality. Stress News, Vol.14(3).

2. Khalsa DS & Stauth C. (1997) Brain Longevity. New York: Warner Books, Inc.

3. Klatz RM. (1999) Anti-Aging Secrets for Maximum Lifespan. Chicago: Sports Tech Labs, Inc.