A nagging boss does not just fiddle with your mind but can significantly affect your immune system and hence overall health. Shocked? Don’t be, it has been proved.
A new study has suggested that stress at work may change your immune system’s gene expression, impacting your health negatively. Chronic stress results in changing gene activity in the immune cells before they reach the bloodstream.
The mentioned stress is characterised by repeated stress that triggers the sympathetic nervous system and stimulates the production of new blood cells. This phenomenon is commonly called fight-or-flight response.
For survival, this response is essential, but its prolonged activation over an extended period of time can have negative effects on health. The discovery was made by Ohio State University scientists in a study of mice. Their colleagues from other institutions, testing blood samples from humans living in poor socioeconomic conditions, found that similarly primed immune cells were present in these chronically stressed people as well.
"The cells share many of the same characteristics in terms of their response to stress," said John Sheridan, co-lead author of the study.
"There is a stress-induced alteration in the bone marrow in both our mouse model and in chronically stressed humans that selects for a cell that's going to be pro-inflammatory.
"So what this suggests is that if you're working for a really bad boss over a long period of time, that experience may play out at the level of gene expression in your immune system," said Sheridan.
The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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