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Social Stress May Trigger Inflammation

Stress caused by awkward social situations may have serious health implications by promoting inflammation in your body.

Researchers at the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at the University of California recruited 124 volunteers for the study. The study was published in the August 2010 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

For the study, the volunteers were put into awkward social situations and their neural response to social rejection was measured.

The researchers found that people with negative responses to social situations had a significant increase in numerous inflammatory markers. Inflammation is part of our immune system’s response to situations that could potentially be harmful but continuous activation of that response due to stressful social situations can have far ranging negative implications for your health.

Inflammation can lead to numerous chronic diseases ranging from arthritis to cardiovascular disease, and these findings show that stressful situations can clearly increase inflammation.

The researchers noted that it has long been known that social stress may increase the risk of chronic disease but this study shows a specific mechanism that proves how closely our mind and body are connected.

They also found that the best way to avoid health implications due to social stress is not necessarily to actively avoid stressful situations altogether. It turns out that approaching them as a welcomed challenge may negate any negative health effects and actually provide benefits.

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