Stress changes DNA

According to the results of a new research study, stress can physically change genes within the body causing illness and immune system problems.

The impact of stress has been recorded by numerous clinical trials, it has previously been found that stress impacts memory, causes back and muscle problems, impacts decision making, causes hair to fall out and even causes illness such as diabetes and heart disease. This latest research has indicated that stress directly changes gene expression which could be one of the reasons why stress causes such health implications.

Humans are born with a DNA blueprint, which determines everything from hair colour to cellular function. Recent discoveries in genetic study is that of epigenetics, which is the “second code” determining how DNA is interpreted and developed into protein molecules that make up the whole of the human body.

Research has previously found that these epigenetics are manipulated and altered by environmental factors and are involved in the development of mental disorders such as depression and diseases including cancers.

A collaboration of researchers from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), Basel, Trier and London, set out to examine how acute psychological stress impacts two genes.

Participants were subjected to stress inducing situations, after which the two genes were examined. It was reported that the acute stress altered the epigenetics which manipulated the protein molecules they subsequently made. Therefore, the researchers suggested that this could be the destructive link between stress and illness or immune system problems.

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