Can having stressful thoughts cause inflammation? There is a possibility, according to a recent study.
Researchers from Ohio University found that levels of a protein that rise in response to inflammation, called C-reactive proteins, increase when a person is asked to think about a negative and stressful event.
The study, presented in March at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society, included 34 women who were healthy. The women were instructed to give a speech to two interviewers, who wore lab coats and didn’t show any expressions on their faces, about why they were deserving of a job (an objectively stressful experience!).
After their speeches, half the study participants were asked to ruminate about how well they did on their speech, while the other half of the participants were asked to ruminate on neutral things, like going to the grocery store.
Researchers drew blood samples from both groups of the study participants, and found that those asked to reflect on their speech had higher levels of C-reactive protein than those who were asked to ponder about neutral things.
Plus, for people who ruminated on the speech, the levels of C-reactive protein rose for an hour or more after they gave the speech. But for those who thinking about neutral subjects, their C-reactive protein levels decreased and went back to a normal level an hour after giving the speech.
Because the findings have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, the researchers noted they should be considered preliminary.