Study Warns Stress May Trigger Alzheimer’s
Scientists at Boston University School of Medicine say stress may trigger Alzheimer’s.
The study published in the journal Cell Reports found anxiety and tension cause key proteins to accumulate in the brain, which leads to the neurodegeneration associated with the disease.
The new discovery focuses on tau protein, which is abundant in brain neurons. In healthy nerve cells, tau proteins are part of the axon, a long, narrow structure that sends electrical impulses away from the cell’s body. During stress, the tau proteins move from the axon to the body off the cell. The purpose of this action is to stimulate the creation of stress granules, which signal the cell to make protective proteins rather than specialized proteins that are less important in stressful times, says researcher Dr. Benjamin Wolozin.
“Surprisingly, the association of tau with stress granules also caused tau to cluster,” Wolozin adds. When stress is brief, this cluster is short-lived and doesn’t pose a problem; but during chronic stress, the accumulation of stress granules with the associated tau clusters persists and harms nerve cells, causing their degeneration.
Earlier Research on the Link Between Stress and Alzheimer’s
Two sticky proteins, tau and amyloid-beta peptide, build up in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients and inflicts the damage that leads to the symptoms. While the current study shows the link between stress and tau, a 2006 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience reveals the association between stress and amyloid-beta peptide. When mice were injected with a substance similar to a human stress hormone, the levels of amyloid-beta peptide protein increased 60 percent. These results along with others show that stress may speed the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Higher Stress Levels Double the Risk of Alzheimer’s
The above two studies show how the physiological effects of stress result in Alzheimer’s, but a 2015 study reveals the magnitude of the impact stress has on the risk of the disease. The research published in Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders found stress doubles an older adult’s risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a forerunner of the disorder. “Our study provides strong evidence that perceived stress increases the likelihood that an older person will develop a MCI,” said senior author Dr. Richard Lipton. “Fortunately, perceived stress is a modifiable risk factor for cognitive impairment, making it a potential target for treatment.”
Based on the evidence, stress is a definite risk factor for Alzheimer’s. The good news is that tension isn’t a feeling that people are helpless to control. Although it can’t be avoided, it can be managed through stress-reduction techniques.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.