3 Ways Stressful Events Are Slowly Killing You

by Dr. Donna Schwontkowski

There are enough negative situations that arise on a daily basis to make us angry or fearful. If you aren’t already exposed to power plays at work that demean employees, political struggles amongst co-workers vying for top positions, or companies taking advantage of the little guy, just turn on your television. There’s plenty to become angry or fearful about.

Big stressful events often precede a diagnosis of cancer or a heart attack in many elderly people. It’s also connected with high blood pressure, strokes, diabetes, and other degenerative diseases, not to mention mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.

How Stress Kills

What’s really interesting is that scientists have discovered detailed information about how stress kills us. Here are three ways on how stress negatively impacts our body:

  1. Affects Natural Killer Cells

Stress has the ability to affect how active your natural killer cells are in their functions. Natural killer cells act as a surveillance team against viruses and cancer cells. When their activity levels fall, it’s easy to be overcome by viruses or other microbes, and cancer cells run rampant. This could be directly related to why the cancer appears in the first place; many cancer patients report that they suffered from a period of extreme stress prior to their diagnosis.

  1. Decreases Secretory IgA

Stress can decrease secretory IgA levels. Secretory IgA is an immunoglobulin found in mucus secretions of the mouth, digestive system, lungs and urinary tract. It’s one of your first lines of defense against pathogens trying to create infections.

Researchers have found that one 5-minute anger outburst can cause a negative impact on secretory IgA levels for up to five hours!

  1. Affects Your Gut Microflora

Stress can also impact your microflora. Fear or anger has been found to create negative changes in the balance of the flora in the intestinal tract. The effect of emotions is greater than diet changes on the flora. In one study, these two negative emotions cause the sensitive Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium to die off while E. coli and Enterobacteria – the ones that can cause disease – rose.


The longer you’re in a state of fear or anger, the more you’re assisting the bad bacteria in your gut to replicate.

Stress induced from anger and fear can make us more susceptible to disease in three different ways – and researchers may find many additional ways in the future. We have no choice but to deal with our anger and fears, keeping them to a minimum.


  • http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/4/4/249.pdf
  • http://www.jpp.krakow.pl/journal/archive/12_11/pdf/591_12_11_article.pdf

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