Yet Another Reason to Chill at Work: Stress Linked to Alzheimer's
This is sobering news: A study recently revealed that stress promotes changes in the brain that are also seen in Alzheimer's patients. In other words, if you're stressed out about you job too often, you can add Alzheimer's to the list of health risks you're exposing yourself to.
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich have discovered that the increased release of stress hormones in rats leads to the generation of "abnormally phosphorylated tau protein" in the brain and ultimately, memory loss.
Protein deposits in nerve cells are a typical feature of Alzheimer's disease: The cells aggregate into clumps, which causes nerve cells to die, particularly in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that plays an important role in learning and memory, as well as in the pre-frontal cortex which regulates higher cognitive functions.
The results of this study complement previous demonstrations by the scientists that stress leads to the formation of beta-amyloid, another protein implicated in Alzheimer's disease. "Our findings show that stress hormones and stress can cause changes in the tau protein like those that arise in Alzheimer's disease," explains Osborne Almeida from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry.
Contrary to popular belief, fewer than 10 percent of Alzheimer cases have a genetic basis. The factors that contribute to the rest of the cases have been largely unknown, but this study reveals a clue. "Viewing stress as a trigger of Alzheimer's disease offers exciting new research possibilities aimed at preventing and delaying this severe disease. Moreover, since vulnerability to major depression is known to be increased by stress, it will be interesting to know the role of molecules such as beta-amyloid and tau in the onset and progress of this condition," says Osborne Almeida.
Even if you're not stressed out at work, you probably know someone who is. You might want to share this article with them. It could be a lifesaver.
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Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want. Her work has been translated into 20 different languages, and she is a frequent expert guest and commentator on news and talk shows. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, on the CBS Early Show, NBC Today, CNBC, Fox Business News, Dr. Phil, Oprah.com and many other media outlets. Lisa discusses her AOL pieces each week and interviews vital guests on the web TV show, This Week in Careers. Learn more on LisaJohnsonMandell.com.