An article published online on August 3, 2011 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, coauthored by Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth H. Blackburn of the University of California, found an indication of accelerated aging in young adults whose mothers had undergone psychological trauma during pregnancy.
The team assessed white blood cell telomere length in 94 healthy young men and women, 49 of whom had mothers who had experienced traumatic life events during their pregnancies. Telomeres are segments of DNA that protect the ends of the cells' chromosomes, helping to maintain their stability. Because telomeres shorten with age, telomere length is used as a marker of cellular aging.
The researchers found shorter telomeres in subjects whose mothers had experienced traumatic stress. The amount of telomere shortening experienced on average by this group was equivalent to being three and one half years older than participants born to mothers who had uneventful pregnancies. The effect was more pronounced in women than men.
"Our previous research on prenatal stress exposure has shown its effects on long-term metabolic, immune, endocrine and cognitive function," stated lead author, Pathik D. Wadhwa, MD, who is a professor of psychiatry & human behavior, obstetrics & gynecology, pediatrics, and epidemiology at the University of California, Irvine. "But this is the first to show the impact of prenatal stress on cell aging in humans, and it sheds light on an important biological pathway underlying the developmental origins of adult disease risk."
First author Sonja Entringer added that "These results indicate that stress exposure in intrauterine life is a significant predictor of adult telomere length – even after accounting for other established prenatal and postnatal influences on telomere length."
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a mysterious medical condition that affects approximately 500,000 Americans.1 It typically targets women between the ages of 25 and 45, but it can actually affect anyone at any age. Unfortunately, the disease has no known cause, and there aren't any tests that can measure for it.
CFS is defined as a set of symptoms that include prolonged, overwhelming fatigue that begins when you wake up and lasts the entire day. This fatigue is often amplified when exercising, as your muscles become tired very quickly.
Many people afflicted with CFS have complaints that extend well-beyond fatigue. Mood swings, muscle spasms, pain, headaches, sleep disturbances, and loss of appetite are all common complaints that come along for the ride. And some experts now believe it may run in families.
Many researchers believe that CFS is triggered by a number of factors including infectious agents, mental or physical stress, nutrient deficiencies, immune system abnormalities and maybe even allergies.
A diagnosis of CFS often leaves people feeling alone and pretty helpless. Since traditional medicine doesn't have any treatment options to offer, conventional doctors usually prescribe antidepressants as a Band-Aid. We think this should be a last resort though.
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