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By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) - Optimists live longer, healthier lives than pessimists, U.S. researchers said on Thursday in a study that may give pessimists one more reason to grumble. Researchers at University of Pittsburgh looked at rates of death and chronic health conditions among participants of the Women's Health Initiative study, which has followed more than 100,000 women ages 50 and over since 1994. Women who were optimistic -- those who expect good rather than bad things to happen -- were 14 percent less likely to die from any cause than pessimists and 30 percent less likely to die from heart disease after eight years of follow up in the study. Optimists also were also less likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes or smoke cigarettes. The team, led Dr. Hilary Tindle, also looked at women who were highly mistrustful of other people -- a group they called "cynically hostile" -- and compared them with women who were more trusting. Women in the cynically hostile group tended to agree with questions such as: "I've often had to take orders from someone who didn't know as much as I did" or "It's safest to trust nobody," Tindle said in a telephone interview. "These questions prove a general mistrust of people," said Tindle, who presented her study Thursday at the American Psychosomatic Society's annual meeting in Chicago.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 12621 - Posted: 03.07.2009

The power of the mind has been overestimated when it comes to fighting cancer, US scientists say. They said they found that a patient's positive or negative emotional state had no direct bearing on cancer survival or disease progression. The University of Pennsylvania team followed more than 1,000 patients with head and neck cancer. But experts said the Cancer journal study should not deter people from adopting a "fighting spirit". Indeed, a positive outlook can help patients cope with gruelling cancer therapies and resume a "normal" life, a spokeswoman for Macmillan Cancer Support said. Seeking emotional support may be beneficial to cancer patients, said the researchers. Lead author Dr James Coyne said: "If cancer patients want psychotherapy or to be in a support group, they should be given the opportunity. There can be lots of emotional and social benefits. But they should not seek such experiences solely on the expectation that they are extending their lives. The hope that we can fight cancer by influencing emotional states appears to have been misplaced." In the study, a patient's emotional status had no bearing on survival, regardless of gender, tumour site or disease stage. Julia Frater, of Cancer Research UK, said: "People with cancer can feel under pressure to cope well with their disease and treatment and to stay on top of things. They are often urged to feel positive. "These results should reassure them that if they don't feel like this, it's okay. Many people do feel worried or low following a diagnosis and this isn't likely to affect the outcome of their treatment." (C)BBC

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 10867 - Posted: 10.22.2007

Perfectionists are more prone to developing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) after an infection, a study has suggested. University of Southampton researchers asked 620 people with gastroenteritis about stress and their illness. Those who pushed themselves or were particularly anxious about symptoms were more likely to develop IBS. Experts said the study, published in Gut, may explain why only some people develop IBS after a gut infection. Up to one in 10 people develop it after a having a bacterial gut infection, having previously been healthy. Such infections cause inflammation and ulceration in the bowel and can cause severe vomiting and rectal bleeding. In this study, each person was checked three and six months after their initial bout of bacterial gastroenteritis to see if they had developed IBS symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain and bloating. In all, 49 people had IBS at both points. Women were more than twice as likely to have IBS as the men. Those with IBS were significantly more likely to have reported high levels of stress and anxiety and psychosomatic symptoms than those who did not develop the condition. They were also significantly more likely to be "driven", carrying on regardless until they were forced to rest, which the researchers say simply makes the initial condition worse and longer-lasting, potentially leading to IBS. (C)BBC

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 10021 - Posted: 02.27.2007

Some cases of chronic fatigue syndrome could be due to brain "injuries" caused during the early stages of glandular fever, scientists suggest. A University of New South Wales team has followed people with Epstein-Barr virus since 1999. They suggest those who remained ill after the virus had gone had suffered a "hit-and-run injury" to the brain. Writing in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, they said the brain appears to keep behaving as if a person is ill. Epstein-Barr virus causes glandular fever, sometimes known as "the kissing disease". Symptoms include fever, sore throat, tiredness, and swollen lymph glands. Most patients recover within a few weeks but one in 10 young people will suffer prolonged symptoms, marked by fatigue. If these symptoms persist, to a disabling degree for six months or more, the illness may be diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The researchers followed the course of illness among 39 people diagnosed with acute glandular fever. Eight patients developed a "post-infective fatigue syndrome" lasting six months or longer, while the remaining 31 recovered quickly. The scientists then looked for signs of the Epstein-Barr virus in blood samples collected from each individual over 12 months. Professor Andrew Lloyd, of the research team, said: "Our findings reveal that neither the virus nor an abnormal immune response explain the post-infective fatigue syndrome. (C)BBC

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 8616 - Posted: 03.06.2006

A team of scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science, led by Prof. Michal Schwartz of the Neurobiology Department, has come up with new findings that may have implications in delaying and slowing down cognitive deterioration in old age. The basis for these developments is Schwartz's team's observations, published today in the February issue of Nature Neuroscience, that immune cells contribute to maintaining the brain's ability to maintain cognitive ability and cell renewal throughout life. Until quite recently, it was generally believed that each individual is born with a fixed number of nerve cells in the brain, and that these cells gradually degenerate and die during the person's lifetime and cannot be replaced. This theory was disproved when researchers discovered that certain regions of the adult brain do in fact retain their ability to support and promote cell renewal (neurogenesis) throughout life, especially under conditions of mental stimuli and physical activity. One such brain region is the hippocampus, which subserves certain memory functions. But how the body delivers the message instructing the brain to step up its formation of new cells is yet unknown. The central nervous system (CNS), comprising the brain and spinal cord, has been considered for a long time as "a forbidden city", in which the immune system is denied entry as its activity is perceived as a possible threat to the complex and dynamic nerve cell networks. Furthermore, immune cells that recognize the brain's own components("autoimmune" cells) are viewed as a real danger as they can induce autoimmune diseases.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 8393 - Posted: 01.16.2006

Patients with panic disorder have nearly double the risk for coronary heart disease, and those also diagnosed with depression are at almost three times the risk, according to new research. The study in the current issue of Psychosomatic Medicine focuses on the medical histories of nearly 40,000 people from the time they were first diagnosed as suffering from panic disorder. Lead author Andres Gomez-Caminero, Ph.D., says the large cohort study "highlights, for the first time, the potential for additive effects of different psychiatric conditions on cardiovascular healthÖ.and it really sets the foundation for new research in the area of cardiovascular risk estimation among patients with mental illness." The report focuses on medical histories from a database of 17 million patients jointly maintained by 30 managed care providers. Panic disorder involves unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms including chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness or abdominal distress. Panic disorder patients are more likely to be female, overweight, smokers and have a history of depression. About 2.4 million Americans annually experience panic episodes, and the manifestations often mimic symptoms of a heart attack. The disorder can be treated by medications and psychotherapy.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 7943 - Posted: 09.24.2005

By NICHOLAS BAKALAR Using brain scanning techniques, researchers have located a specific part of the brain that causes people with asthma to wheeze and gasp for breath when under emotional stress. Their report, released on Aug. 29, will appear in the Sept. 13 issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Asthma sufferers often note that anxiety and emotional turmoil make the symptoms of an attack much worse, and in some cases, emotion alone can precipitate an attack. Previous research has shown, for example, that college students with asthma have greater airway inflammation when they are exposed to an allergen during exam week than when the exposure occurs at a less stressful time. Though these psychological exacerbations of asthma were well known, the physical connection between the brain and the immune system had not been described. Richard J. Davidson, the senior author of the paper and a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin, said the work showed that when people with asthma are exposed to their allergen, "you find certain centers in the brain that we know are intimately involved in emotions that get activated." Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 7853 - Posted: 09.06.2005

MADISON -- The mere mention of a stressful word like "wheeze" can activate two brain regions in asthmatics during an attack, and this brain activity may be associated with more severe asthma symptoms, according to a study by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers and collaborators. The study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Online, August 29, 2005), reveals a functional link between emotion processing centers in the brain and certain physiological processes relevant to disease. UW-Madison psychology professor Richard Davidson, an expert on emotions; and UW-Madison medicine professor William Busse, an expert on asthma; are senior co-authors on the study. Melissa Rosenkranz, a graduate student at the UW-Madison Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience, is the lead author. "While this study was small, it shows how important specific brain circuits can be in modulating inflammation," says Davidson, director of the affective neuroscience laboratory and the Waisman Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior. "The data suggest potential future targets for the development of drugs and behavioral interventions to control asthma and other stress-responsive disorders."

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 7811 - Posted: 08.29.2005

New York University biologists have uncovered how the innate immune system in mice's brains fights viral infection of neurons. The findings, published as the cover study in the latest issue of Virology, show that proteins in neurons fight the virus at multiple stages--by preventing the formation of viral RNA and proteins, and blocking the virus' release, which could infect other cells in the brain. "There is no magic bullet in fighting viral infections in neurons," said NYU Biology Professor Carol Shoshkes Reiss, the study's senior author. "However, these findings show the redundancy of the immune system--when one response fails to fight infection, others step in." The study was also conducted at NYU, by a post-doctoral fellow, Mark Trottier, Jr., PhD, now at Michigan State, and Beth Palian, currently a doctoral student at the University of Southern California. Recently, the West Nile virus has been responsible for a viral encephalitis outbreak in the northeast. The NYU researchers set out to determine how the body can fight viral encephalitis. Specifically, they examined how type I interferons--proteins made by the body that are released in response to stimuli, notably infection--work in neurons and to determine if nerve cells' response to interferons is similar to that of other cells.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 7046 - Posted: 03.17.2005

Curious female rats, more willing to step out and explore their environment, survive breast and pituitary tumors longer than their more cautious sisters, says a Penn State researcher. Dr. Sonia Cavigelli, assistant professor of biobehavioral health, says that her study of 80 female rats from birth to death shows that the curious ones with tumors lived, on average, an additional six months, or 25 percent longer lives, than the cautious ones. "It's difficult to extrapolate from rats to people,” she notes.“However, there have been studies that show that shy elderly people report more health symptoms than their more outgoing age-mates. Our new results with rats are consistent with those findings and support the notion that personality traits may have a significant impact on health and resilience to disease." Cavigelli, who joined the Penn State faculty in August, detailed the results at the American Psychosomatic Society meeting in Vancouver, Canada, in a paper, Exploratory Tendency During Infancy and Survival in Female Rats with Spontaneous Tumors. She conducted the study while she was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago. Her co-authors are J. R. Yee, graduate student in human development, and Dr. Martha McClintock, professor of psychology, both at the University of Chicago.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 7003 - Posted: 03.09.2005

Up to three in 10 people who are injured do not recover as quickly as expected for psychological reasons, according to new study. In 5% to 10% of cases a minor physical injury becomes a major problem, affecting insurance claims and the length of time off work, it found. The work was done for the Association of British Insurers and International Underwriting Association. Insurers want to intervene earlier to prevent cases becoming too expensive. The report found that the recovery of between 20% and 30% of people injured in car accidents or at work was hampered by psychological factors. The organisations commissioned the research after evidence showed factors such as depression were affecting people's recovery from accidents. The report said the problem helps to explain why many injury claims take much longer to settle and at far greater cost than first seemed likely. Chief executive of the Motor Insurers' Bureau Ashton West, who chaired the research panel, said insurers would usually expect injuries such as back sprain or whiplash to clear up quickly. (C)BBC

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 5898 - Posted: 07.28.2004

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Feeling sick can be "all in the head" for people with inflammatory disorders or for those receiving immunotherapy, say Robert Dantzer and Keith Kelley, professors in the department of animal sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "For the first time, we have evidence of a strong relationship between a molecular event and the development of psychopathology," Dantzer said. The two scientists, who have collaborated for 25 years, have identified how a molecular pathway in the brain may explain why some patients suffering from inflammatory diseases develop depression. "The goal of our research is to understand the mechanisms that are responsible for causing depression in patients with inflammatory diseases," Dantzer said. Depressive disorders occur in 12 to 30 percent of patients who suffer from various diseases with an inflammatory component, including coronary heart disease and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowels. These mood disorders usually are attributed to psychological problems encountered by patients having to deal with the suffering and disability brought about by their diseases.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 5891 - Posted: 07.28.2004

By ABRAHAM VERGHESE In America, we have always taken it as an article of faith that we ''battle'' cancer; we attack it with knives, we poison it with chemotherapy or we blast it with radiation. If we are fortunate, we ''beat'' the cancer. If not, we are posthumously praised for having ''succumbed after a long battle.'' If you accept the war metaphor (and not everyone does), then a diagnosis of cancer becomes a call to arms, an induction into an army, and it goes without saying that in such a war, optimism is essential. Memoirs of cancer survivors and the Web sites of some cancer centers state this as a creed: a ''positive attitude'' influences survival. But a recent Australian study of 204 people with lung cancer found that those who were optimistic before and after treatment did not live longer; they did not fare better (or worse) than their less hopeful counterparts. Earlier studies have examined cancer patients' helplessness or depression or pessimism. The results are a mixed bag, with some studies showing that a negative attitude hurts survival and others showing no relation between one's temperament and one's survival. What makes the Australian effort different is that it focused rigorously on a fairly large group of patients with a single type and stage of cancer, and it used a well-accepted method for assessing optimism. The study followed patients for five years. By taking these steps, the Australians overcame many (though not all) of their predecessors' methodological weaknesses. (Ideally, they would have examined whether optimism detected before a diagnosis of cancer was ever made -- optimism as a character trait, rather than as an attitude after diagnosis -- correlated with outcome.) Optimism, it seems, is overrated -- at least when it comes to this particular form of cancer. Biology (and the availability of effective treatment) determines fate. Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 5019 - Posted: 02.22.2004

How you react to stress influences how easily you resist or succumb to disease, including viruses like HIV, discovered UCLA AIDS Institute scientists. Reported in the Dec.15 edition of Biological Psychiatry, the new findings identify the immune mechanism that makes shy people more susceptible to infection than outgoing people. "Since ancient Greece, physicians have noticed that persons with a 'melancholic temperament' are more vulnerable to viral infections," said Steve Cole, principal investigator and assistant professor of hematology-oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine and a member of the UCLA AIDS Institute. "During the AIDS epidemic, researchers found that introverted people got sick and died sooner than extroverted people," said Bruce Naliboff, co-author and a clinical professor at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. "Our study pinpoints the biological mechanism that connects personality and disease."

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 4710 - Posted: 12.17.2003

By C. CLAIBORNE RAY [Q] . A neighbor lost her husband to a brain infection called fungal cerebral mucormycosis. What is it? A. Luckily this is a rare problem; it comes from certain kinds of very common funguses that may be inhaled or swallowed by almost anyone anywhere. In a few susceptible people, the funguses may take hold of the lining of the mouth or nasal tract, or mucosa, and multiply, moving in a very short time to the brain and sometimes to other organs by way of the bloodstream. Death rates are high, especially when surgery to remove the fungal masses and infiltrated tissues and treatment with antifungal drugs are not undertaken soon enough. Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 4337 - Posted: 10.05.2003

Pouring your emotions out on paper could help wounds heal quicker, researchers say. It is thought that writing about troubling experiences helps people deal with them. This could then help the immune system work more effectively, researchers told the British Psychological Society conference in Stoke-on-Trent. They say their findings offer a cheap and easy to administer way of helping patients heal faster. In the study, which involved 36 people, half were asked to write about the most upsetting experience they had had, spelling out how they had felt. The rest of the study participants wrote about trivial things, such as how they spent their free time. (C) BBC

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 4225 - Posted: 09.07.2003

By ERICA GOODE Most people accept the idea that stress and depression chip away at the body's natural ability to fight off disease. But many medical scientists have remained skeptical that the mind can exert such a direct influence over the immune system. In recent years, however, evidence has accumulated that psychology can indeed affect biology. Studies have found, for example, that people who suffer from depression are at higher risk for heart disease and other illnesses. Other research has shown that wounds take longer to heal in women who care for patients with Alzheimer's disease than in other women who are not similarly stressed. And people under stress have been found to be more susceptible to colds and flu, and to have more severe symptoms after they fall ill. Now a new study adds another piece to the puzzle. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin are reporting today that the activation of brain regions associated with negative emotions appears to weaken people's immune response to a flu vaccine. Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 4196 - Posted: 09.02.2003

MADISON - Staying healthy may involve more than washing hands or keeping a positive attitude. According to a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, it also may involve a particular pattern of brain activity. By monitoring activity levels in the human brain's prefrontal cortex, the researchers demonstrate for the first time that people who have more activity in the left side of this area also have a stronger immune response against disease. The findings, soon to be published in the online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pinpoint one of the mechanisms underlying the link between mental and physical well-being. Numerous scientific studies show that keeping a positive attitude can keep a person healthy, says Richard Davidson, a UW-Madison neuroscientist and senior author of the paper. But he adds that the reasons why this connection exists are poorly understood.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 4195 - Posted: 09.02.2003

People who are energetic, happy and relaxed are less likely to catch colds, while those who are depressed, nervous or angry are more likely to complain about cold symptoms, whether or not they get bitten by the cold bug, according to a recent study. Study participants who had a positive emotional style weren't infected as often and experienced fewer symptoms compared to people with a negative emotional style, say Sheldon Cohen, Ph.D., of Carnegie Mellon University and colleagues, writing in the July issue of Psychosomatic Medicine. Cohen's team interviewed 334 healthy volunteers three evenings a week for two weeks to assess their emotional states. The volunteers described how they felt that day in three positive-emotion areas: vigor, well-being and calm. They were also questioned about three categories of negative feelings: depression, anxiety and hostility.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 4068 - Posted: 07.22.2003

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A liposuction-like procedure called lipectomy results in a loss of humoral immune protection in two commonly studied rodent models, the prairie vole and the Siberian hamster, scientists have found. The report by a team of researchers at Indiana University, Ohio State University and Johns Hopkins University was made available online this week by The Royal Society. Their study is the first to show that even a moderate loss of fat leads to decreased amounts of infection-fighting IgG antibodies. "We were able to show that even a subtle decrease in fat can decrease humoral immunity, which has the potential to increase disease susceptibility," said Indiana University biologist Gregory Demas, who led the study. "We knew that immune function is energetically costly, but it is now clear that animals use energy stored as fat to bolster immunity and likely to combat infection." Copyright 2002, the Trustees of Indiana University

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 3626 - Posted: 03.29.2003