As social stress is prematurely aging your immune system
Social stress like discrimination and family problems, along with work and money problems, can contribute to premature aging of your immune system, a recent study found. This is a double blow, as the immune system already deteriorates with age.
Immune aging can lead to cancer, heart disease and other age-related health conditions and reduce the effectiveness of vaccines like Covid-19, said lead author Eric Klopack, a postdoctoral researcher at the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California.
"People with higher stress scores had older immune profiles, with lower percentages of disease fighters and higher percentages of consumed T cells," Klopack said.
T cells are some of the body's most important protectors, performing several key functions. "Killer" T cells can directly eliminate virus-infected and cancer cells, and help clear so-called "zombie cells," old cells that no longer divide but refuse to die.
Older cells are dangerous because they release a variety of proteins that affect the tissues around them. Such cells have been shown to contribute to chronic inflammation. As they accumulate more and more in the body, they promote aging conditions, such as osteoporosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition to finding that people who reported higher stress levels had more zombie cells, Klopack and his team found that they also had fewer T cells, which are the new, fresh cells needed to cope with new invaders. .