Health Headlines: Aging gracefully

As our age goes up, so does our risk of diseases like cancer, heart disease, and pneumonia. But why do older adults of the same age have drastically different h
Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 11:25 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - As our age goes up, so does our risk of diseases like cancer, heart disease, and pneumonia. But why do older adults of the same age have drastically different health outcomes?

Researchers say the culprit might be stress.

Dr. Chrisopher Lowry at the University of Colorado Boulder says, “One part of the stress response is linked to how our immune system responds. Excessive amounts of inflammation in response to stress can have negative outcomes.”

University of Southern California researchers say those who have more stress also tend to have a poor diet and exercise less. They also found something they called CMV which may be a target for intervention. Just like shingles and chickenpox, CMV is a virus that is dormant most of the time.

Dr. Louis Picker with Oregon Health & Science University explains, “It persists in our bodies at very low levels and generates very, very strong, very potent responses.”

CMV is especially active when a person is experiencing high stress. And researchers say controlling it was found to limit the connection between stress and unhealthy aging, giving everyone a better chance to age gracefully.

Researchers at the University of Southern California believe widespread CMV vaccination could be a simple and effective way to reduce the negative effects stress has on aging.