Article by Kim Gilmore
INTERLEUKIN-6 SEEN AS STRESS-HEALTH LINK
A growing body of evidence has implicated caregiving as a risk factor for health. A study has shown that compared with noncaregivers, men and women who provide care to a spouse with a stroke or dementia report more infectious illness episodes, they have poorer immune responses to influenza virus and pneumococcal pneumonia vaccines, their wounds heal more slowly, they are at greater risk for developing mild hypertension, and they may be at greater risk for coronary hearty disease. Moreover, a published prospective longitudinal study found that the relative risk for all-cause mortality among strained caregivers was 63% higher than noncaregiving controls.
No doubt you already well know that stress can make you sick. However, a published University study appears to have uncovered the link between stress and ill-health - interleukin-6 (IL-6).
IL-6 is a proinflammatory cytokine (small protein released by cells) that directly affects the behaviour in other cells of the body. It is associated with many acute and chronic diseases including arthritis, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s dementia, periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease and stroke. IL-6 is also linked to frailty and functional decline in old age.
An important concern about IL-6, is that it is directly linked in published studies to cardiovascular disease. This is due, at least in part, to the fact that it plays a key role in promoting the liver’s production of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of systemic inflammation that, when elevated is a recognised significant risk factor for heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases.
Both IL-6 and CRP are also involved in the development of type 2 diabetes. In one study, women with elevated levels of these proinflammatory proteins were more likely to develop diabetes during the four-year study period than women with lower levels of IL-6 and CRP (“C-reactive protein, interleukin-6 and risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus” Jnl Amer Med Assn 2001; vol 286(3): 327-334).
Other studies have shown that negative emotions such as depression and stressful experiences can promote the production of IL-6, CRP and other proinflammatory cytokines. These negative emotions can also lead to greater risk of infection, prolonged periods of infection and slowed wound healing. All of these conditions can, in themselves promote sustained release of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-6 and CRP.
In order to discover the connection between stress, poor health and increased risk for development of acute and chronic diseases, researchers at the Departments of Psychiatry, Internal Medicine, Immunology and Medical Genetics, Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics, Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus OHIO, The Department of Psychology, Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, and Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ohio State University and The Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina, North Carolina, USA measured IL-6 levels of 119 people caring for spouses with dementia, and compared their findings to IL-6 levels in 106 healthy control participants who were not caring for a sick relative. The average caregiver was found on average, to spend more than nine hours each day in caregiving-related activities over an average of nearly five years. The average age of the participants was just over 70 years. Prior to beginning the study, 28 of the caregivers’ spouses had already died and an additional 50 died during the study period (“Chronic stress and age-related increases in the proinflammatory cytokine IL-6” Proceed. National Academy of Sciences 2003; vol 100(15): 9090-9095).
The researchers found that during the six-year study period, caregivers reported significantly more stress and loneliness than the control subjects. Importantly, during that same time frame, blood levels of the proinflammatory cytokine IL-6 increased by an average of four times faster among the caregivers than the control participants. Even after a spouse died, the caregivers continued to maintain the increased IL-6 levels. The investigators hypothesize that this may be due to a combination of biological and psychological mechanisms, as previous research has already shown that stress and depression can permanently alter the immune system.
The researchers concluded the study by stating: “The finding that caregivers’ average rate of increase in IL-6 was about four times as large as that of non-caregivers, suggests that a chronic stressor is capable of substantially augmenting normal age-related increases, effectively, prematurely aging the body’s immune response. These data provide important evidence of a key mechanisms through which chronic stressors may have potent health consequences for older adults, accelerating risk of a host of age-related diseases”.
The bad news from this, and other similar studies is that if you are experiencing chronic stress, such as caregiving, or any other difficult situation, you need to be aware that stress can adversely impact your health, increasing significantly, risk for a range of acute and age-related chronic diseases.
Now the GOOD NEWS
Proanthocyanidins are natural compounds found in fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts. They belong to a class of phenolic compounds and are widely researched because of their health-promotiong effects. Grape seeds are a particularly rich source of these polyphenols and intense interest developed in the late 20th century as researchers began to investigate the “French Paradox”. The paradox describes how, despite a diet high in saturated fats, the mortality rate from heart disease is relatively low. Investigators became especially interested in the protective role of red wine, a staple of the French diet.
Proanthocyanidins, which are present in red wine because fermentation takes place in the presence of grape seed and skin, were shown in a number of published animal and human studies to possess potent antioxidant (50 x greater than vitamin C and 30 x greater than vitamin E), and anti-inflammatory effects. Later studies have confirmed cardioprotective and chemopreventive effects with cytotoxicity to cancer cells.
Of particular importance is the ability of these natural polyphenols to reduce and normalise levels of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-6 and CRP, and this anti-inflammatory effect is evidenced in a number of university published studies.
We have taken these grape seed polyphenols and potentiated, concentrated and standardised the extract and combined this with a prebiotic soluble dietary fibre (inulin-type fructans) which too, have demonstrated the reduction of levels of IL-6 in published human studies.
This is available in a product known as neurolex and just one teaspoon of this convenient powder, added three times each day to foods and beverages such as tea and coffee, will provide a daily intake of 300 mg of potent anti-inflammatory/antioxidant grape seed extract and 12 grams of prebiotic soluble dietary fibre. Further information is available by visiting our website www.neurolex.com.au
Neurolex pty ltd
9 Feb 2011
Last Update: 1 Mar 2011
Article/Information supplied by Kim Gilmore
Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.