© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Chronic stress can reduce lifespan, says recent Yale study

A stressful lifestyle can affect your health at the DNA level, according to new research from Yale University.

All humans have a “biological clock” -- the patterns of chemical change our DNA goes through as we age. People whose bodies age faster will likely live shorter lives. Many factors affect longevity, and the Yale research indicates that chronic stress can shorten one’s lifespan.

Stress was already known to exacerbate physical health problems, such as increased risk for heart attack or diabetes. But the Yale study is the first concrete evidence that stress can have negative health consequences beyond any other mental or physical health conditions.

“A lot of people have felt on a gut level that stress makes us age faster, and our study shows that that is true,” said Zach Harvanek, a resident psychiatrist at Yale and one of the researchers involved in the study.

The study found, however, that some lifestyle choices mitigated the negative effects. Subjects who showed strong emotional regulation and self-control skills had younger “biological ages” than their counterparts who did not.

“The most surprising aspect of the study is that resilience factors, like emotion regulation, can protect us not just from the mental effects of stress, but also from the effects of stress on our physical health.”

Harvanek suggested mindfulness as a strategy to cope with stress. This can be as simple as taking a few minutes each day to pause and reflect on how you’re feeling -- by journaling, for example. Harvanek also said that, if possible, anyone feeling overwhelming levels of stress should talk to a licensed mental health professional.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content