Scientists Find Why Stress Damages DNA


DURHAM, N.C., Aug. 22 (UPI) — For years, studies showed chronic stress creates chromosomal damage and now U.S. researchers say they know why.

Dr. Robert J. Lefkowitz, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Duke University Medical Center, said in the study, mice were infused with an adrenaline-like compound that works through a receptor called the beta adrenergic receptor.

Lefkowitz, the senior author, and colleagues found this model of chronic stress triggered certain biological pathways that ultimately resulted in accumulation of DNA damage.

“This could give us a plausible explanation of how chronic stress may lead to a variety of human conditions and disorders, which range from merely cosmetic, like graying hair, to life-threatening disorders like malignancies,” Lefkowitz said in a statement.

“The study showed that chronic stress leads to prolonged lowering of p53 levels — a tumor suppressor protein and is considered a “guardian of the genome,” one that prevents genomic abnormalities, Makoto Hara, a postdoctoral fellow in the Lefkowitz laboratory.

“We hypothesize that this is the reason for the chromosomal irregularities we found in these chronically stressed mice.”

The study, published in the journal Nature, showed the infusion of an adrenaline-like compound for four weeks in the mice caused degradation of p53, which was present in lower levels over time.

‘Supermom’ believers apt to be depressedMonday, August 22, 2011 7:42 PMSEATTLE, Aug. 22 (UPI) —  U.S. workplaces are still designed for those without care-giving responsibilities, which can lead to depression, a researcher says.

“Women are sold a story that they can do it all, but most workplaces are still designed for employees without child-care responsibilities,” study leader Katrina Leupp, a University of Washington sociology graduate student, said in a statement.

“In reality, juggling home and work lives requires some sacrifice, such as cutting back on work hours and getting husbands to help more. You can happily combine child rearing and a career, if you’re willing to let some things slide.”

Leupp analyzed survey responses of 1,600 U.S. women — stay-at-home moms and working mom — and married, who were participating in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor.

As young adults, the women answered questions about work-life balance and when the women reached age 40, Leupp measured their levels of depression.

The study found stay-at-home moms had more depression symptoms than working moms, but those with the “supermom” attitude — who as young adults agreed women can combine employment and family care — were at a higher risk for depression compared with working moms who had a more realistic view.

“Employed women who expected that work-life balance was going to be hard are probably more likely to accept that they can’t do it all,” Leupp said.

Leupp presented the findings at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting in Las Vegas.

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