Monday, September 12, 2005

Researchers find link between stress and asthma

In the Sept. 13th issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers will report on the link they've found between stress and asthma. Using brain scans, they have located the part of the brain that causes people to wheeze and gasp for breath when they are stressed.

In an asthma attack, an allergen provokes the release of chemicals that causes muscles to contract. Then other cells release chemicals called cytokines to fight off the allergen, which causes inflammation, and hence, the wheezing and gasping occur.

Researchers exposed six volunteers to allergens that caused both mucscle contractions and inflammation. Using an M.R.I. and trigger words such as "wheeze" and "suffocate", they have discovered different brain activity between causes of muscle constriction and that of inflammation. They also found that different words used caused and increased the inflammatory phase of an attack.

Although the study had a small amount of test subjects and that it's likely other parts of the brain were used in the process, it reveals an unknown link between the brain and events that occur within the body.

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