Researchers from University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) have discovered something that may lead to creation of a pill that may fortify our immune system to off stress and its health hazards.

Immune cells with telomeres

The scientists at UCLA have found that each of our immune cells has a telomere (as seen in the picture via UCLA/Effros Labs), a tiny clock which gets smaller when the cells divide. The shorter telomeres have been associated with numerous diseases like osteoporosis, heart diseases and aging as wells as HIV. However, one life saver that keeps the length of the telomeres the same is the enzyme telomerase. Telomerase helps maintain the cell’s ability to continue dividing yet keeps the telomeres young.

The link between stress and telomerase happens to be the stress hormone cortisol that holds back our cells’ ability to activate telomerase. Isn’t it an unbelievable mind-body connection! Therefore, as the study explains, a chronically stressed out person has shorter telomeres, inviting a lot of health troubles.

“When the body is under stress, it boosts production of cortisol to support a ‘fight or flight’ response,” explains Rita Effros, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and a member of the Jonsson Cancer Center, Molecular Biology Institute and UCLA AIDS Institute.

“If the hormone remains elevated in the bloodstream for long periods of time, though, it wears down the immune system. We are testing therapeutic ways of enhancing telomerase levels to help the immune system ward off cortisol’s effect. If we’re successful, one day a pill may exist to strengthen the immune system’s ability to weather chronic emotional stress.”

The study has been published in the May issue of the journal – ‘Brain, Behaviour and Immunity’.

Stress can lead to troubles for a longer-term and make people more inclined to get fall ill frequently. Therefore the research may just help to bring about a stress buster aimed at those under chronic stress like caregivers of perpetually ill family members, astronauts, soldiers, air traffic controllers and long-distance travelers who commute daily.

So till a solution is invented, it is suggested that – be happy don’t worry, because a healthy mind will lead to a healthy body.