Could Taking Your Phone to Bed at Night Increase Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer?

Could Taking Your Phone to Bed at Night Increase Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer?

Claremont Colonic Newsletter
When you go to bed at night, do you really go to bed, or do you sit there and scroll through your news feed, get caught up on emails, and dive down the rabbit hole of social media on your phone or tablet? How often do you take your computer to bed with you to work? All of these things expose you to blue light, which has been found to promote eyestrain leading to damaged retinal cells. That is just the tip of the iceberg, though, as researchers now have found a strong connection between blue light exposure and colorectal cancer.

Outdoor blue light exposure at night linked to cancer

Scientists found a positive correlation between the amount of blue light shining near people’s homes at night, and the rates of colorectal cancer. The study looked at 661 people living in two Spanish cities – Madrid and Barcelona, who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 2007 and 2013. This group was compared to a group of 1,322 people who did not have a history of cancer and were matched to the study group by sex and age.

Data collection

Images taken by the International Space Station provided access to the type of exposure of outdoor artificial light at night across red, green, and blue spectra. Data on where the participants lived and worked along with other cancer risk factors such as age, BMI, family history of cancer, lifestyle habits such as drinking, smoking, exercise, diet, and sleep were collected along with education and socioeconomic status. Those with cancer were, on average, 67 years old and were more likely to have a family history of cancer.

Previous studies show a link between blue light exposure and cancer

According to study co-author, Manolis Kogevinas, the scientific director of the Servo Ochoa Distinction at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, the research team wanted to build on several other studies that had found a link between night shift work and light that interferes with our internal body clock or circadian rhythm. Previous links have been found between blue light and breast and prostate cancer.

Hormones and circadian rhythm

In the journal of Epidemiology, where the study was published, the researchers said that circadian rhythms are very closely linked to hormones. It is thought that exposure to blue light at night can change the production of certain types of chemicals. This information was built upon previous links to circadian disruption and colon cancer in animal studies.

Being exposed to artificial light at night may depress and delay the release of the hormone melatonin, which is linked to tumor growth and made in the dark phase of the body’s 24-hour cycle.

Not quite granular enough

According to Kogevinas, the study was somewhat limited because they were not able to accurately measure the amount of light that reaches people’s homes.

“I would have liked to have a few thousand people wearing a personal light sensor for a few years! This would have given a much more accurate estimate of light. We measure environmental light and particularly blue light accurately but we are not really measuring what reaches the eyes of the person.”

However, what researchers did find is that exposure to light at night is not a neutral factor in health and wellbeing. In fact, it is something that should be taken seriously. The body needs dark time. Complete dark time, and when it is derailed off of its normal clock and rhythm, the impact is not negligible.

What about computers, tablets, and phones?

Although the latest research does not specifically look at blue light from computers, phones, and tablets, researchers still made a connection and a recommendation.

“Exposing ourselves to unnecessary levels, particularly of blue light, is not necessary. Part of the blue light exposures comes from tablets and smartphones. Companies should develop more their technologies to reduce even further the light emissions.”

So, the takeaway here is that if you have lots of light outside of your bedroom window, get dark out curtains or blinds and keep them shut tight at night. If you are in the habit of taking your phone to bed with you…quit. Leave it outside your bedroom somewhere so that you are not tempted to reach for it during the night. And, stop working in bed! When it is time for sleep, honor your body and give it what it needs to be healthy. Rest is paramount, and exposure to blue light interferes with your body’s natural ability to heal and re-energize!

Contributor-Susan Patterson, Alternative Daily

What Everyone Gets Wrong About Cholesterol in Food

What Everyone Gets Wrong About Cholesterol in Food

Claremont Colonic and Nutrient Resource Clinic
Many people worry about cholesterol, and with good reason. More than a third of Americans have high cholesterol, putting them at greater risk of stroke and heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. What you eat can play an important role in maintaining cardiovascular health, and it is reasonable to think that eating cholesterol-laden foods will raise your cholesterol levels. But the connection isn’t quite that simple.
“I think for a lot of people it just makes sense, logically, even though the majority of the data, within the context of current intake, show that’s not really the case,” said Alice Lichtenstein, director of Tufts University’s Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory.

The amount of cholesterol in your food doesn’t necessarily translate to the amount of cholesterol in your blood vessels.

The ‘bigger culprit’

The US Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines don’t specify a maximum level for how much cholesterol a person should have in their diet — the recommendation was eliminated in the 2015-2020 publication, and were not included in the newest guidelines released for 2021. The reason: For the most part, the amount of cholesterol we’re taking in is not really a problem.

When thinking about dietary cholesterol, Lichtenstein emphasized that it’s important to take into consideration how much of it people typically eat in a day. She was on the committee that decided the previous dietary guideline recommendation of limiting daily cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams wasn’t necessary. Why? Because most of us were already doing that. Women consume, on average, 250 milligrams of cholesterol a day, and men 350 milligrams, according to Lichtenstein. Therefore, the committee didn’t consider cholesterol a “nutrient of public health concern.” (That is, Americans generally aren’t getting too much or too little of it.)

A 2019 American Heart Association meta-analysis of more than 50 studies did not find a significant association between dietary cholesterol and cardiovascular risk. Where cholesterol intake did seem to increase risk, people were eating as much as three times the average amount.

“Eating foods rich in cholesterol does increase blood cholesterol, usually by a small, but still significant amount,” explained Dr. Stephen Devries, a preventive cardiologist and executive director of the educational nonprofit Gaples Institute in Deerfield, Illinois. But the effect of eating foods that contain a lot of cholesterol “may not be as high as one might expect, because most of the cholesterol in blood actually comes from the body’s own production.” When you consume a bunch of cholesterol, your body will usually make less to compensate.

Of greater concern is what usually gets served up alongside cholesterol: saturated fat. Eating lots of foods high in saturated fat increases the body’s production of low-density lipoproteins, or LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, which can build up inside the arteries, restricting blood flow to the heart and brain, heightening the chance of heart attack or stroke.

“Saturated fat is a bigger culprit for raising blood cholesterol in general than dietary cholesterol,” Devries said.

The role of cholesterol in the body

Animals — including humans — make cholesterol to perform a host of important functions in the body, such as making sex hormones, converting sunlight into vitamin D, and forming part of the cell membrane. Plants don’t make cholesterol, so the cholesterol we get in our diets comes from eating animal products, mainly meat and dairy. And those are top dietary sources of saturated fat — what Devries called “a double whammy for raising blood cholesterol levels.”

There is one popular food that bucks this trend: eggs, which are low in saturated fat but very high in cholesterol. One large egg contains 1.6 grams of saturated fat and a whopping 187 milligrams of cholesterol. In fact, eggs account for a quarter of the cholesterol in the American diet.

Science just can’t seem to decide if eggs are good or bad for your health. Some studies suggest eating eggs increases risk of cardiovascular disease while others conclude it doesn’t. One thing that sometimes gets left out of research that depends on study participants reporting how many eggs they eat is what else they eat. While eggs themselves don’t contain much in the way of saturated fat, their companions at the breakfast table — bacon, sausage, cheese — often do.

“Now we’re realizing it’s much more important to look at dietary patterns, the whole picture,” Lichtenstein said. “You can be thrown off if you look just at the individual foods and not what else is coming in with them.”

Not all high-cholesterol foods are created equal

Nutrition experts stress that it’s crucial not just to cut out so-called bad foods from your diet, but to pay attention to what you’re replacing them with.

A lot of the controversy around the health effects of saturated fats, for instance, has come from studying what happens when people cut down on them without taking into account what they’re eating instead.

“The risk of every dietary factor has been in turns both exaggerated and other times minimized, and that’s definitely the case with saturated fat,” Devries said. “If saturated fat is replaced with refined carbs, like sugar or white bread, then there’s been shown to be no net health benefit. If saturated fat is replaced with other healthier fats, then there’s a clear health benefit with a lower rate of heart disease.”

Seafood — most notably shrimp — can be relatively high in cholesterol. But shellfish and fish are great sources of lean protein for people who eat animal products, and provide essential omega-3 fatty acids that the body can’t make on its own. That makes them good substitutes for red meat and poultry.

As for the age-old egg question, Devries recommends sticking to no more than four full eggs a week — that is, including the yolk, where almost all the cholesterol is, along with about half the protein. Lichtenstein isn’t too concerned about limiting egg intake for most people, especially since it’s a high-quality protein that’s easy to store and prepare. Both experts agree that if you eat eggs regularly and don’t have high LDL levels, you’re probably fine to keep doing what you’re doing.

Healthy eating patterns

There are some people who should be more careful about their intake of eggs and other foods high in cholesterol. That includes people who have borderline high cholesterol (over 200 milligrams/deciliter) or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as family history, or those who are hypersensitive to dietary cholesterol, meaning that even regular amounts raise their blood cholesterol levels significantly. People with type 2 diabetes should also watch the cholesterol in their foods. Individuals should talk to their doctors about their risks.

For most people, fretting over the cholesterol in particular foods is less meaningful to heart health than trading out the usual suspects — like red meat, full-fat dairy, packaged foods and sugary drinks — for more vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and beans. The 2019 AHA meta-analysis recommends shifting to healthy eating patterns that emphasize these unprocessed ingredients, such as the Mediterranean diet.

“It’s most important to focus on the categories of healthful foods, rather than discussing individual nutrients like saturated fat or cholesterol,” Devries said. “Most people don’t look at (nutrition) labels and what I’m trying to encourage people to do is to eat more food that doesn’t have labels.”

So instead of stressing out every time you eat eggs, why not gradually incorporate more leafy greens in your weekly meal plan? Or if it’s more appealing, start by adding fresh seasonal fruit to your dessert a couple nights of the week. Ease into the new eating habits and keep the big picture in mind.

Contributor: Amanda Schupak – CNN Health

13 Foods That Scrub Our Arteries Clean

13 Foods That Scrub Our Arteries Clean

Claremont Colonic Newsletter
As we get older, the collective opinions of the medical community and the mainstream media begin to instill a fear of cardiovascular disease in our minds. Every food becomes a danger for clogging your arteries. Every gym workout is spurned on by the growing fear that your heart isn’t as strong as it should be.
And with all that fear-mongering aside, your concerns are not without merit. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 614,348 deaths were caused by heart disease in 2014. This makes it the leading cause of death amongst all other diseases and health conditions, cancer included.

Atherosclerosis refers to the progressive clogging of the arteries. It is a key contributor to heart disease, along with stroke and a range of other cardiovascular conditions. Atherosclerosis is affected by a range of variables including autoimmunity, infection and dietary complications. It is also a condition which is entirely preventable. And in my opinion, it’s very easy to prevent or even reverse, provided you know which foods to eat and which to avoid.

I’ve put together a list of foods known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense and fiber-rich properties. These are all important elements which can set you back on the path to healthier arteries and improved cardiovascular health. The added effect is that these foods will improve your health in general, meaning you’ll feel better than ever!

Fruit for Scrubbing Arteries.


A personal favorite of mine, avocados are unbelievably nutritious and make a great addition to any meal. They supercharge a boring sandwich and make salads a whole lot more exciting. They are great simply on their own or in a delicious homemade guacamole dip. It seems hard to believe that something so creamy and delicious can also be good for you, but you better believe it!

In addition to their other wide-ranging health properties, avocados have been shown to dramatically improve blood cholesterol. A study published in the Archives of Medical Research found that consuming avocado on a daily basis leads to a decrease in triglycerides. LDL cholesterol (the unofficial “bad” kind) dropped by about 22 percent and HDL (“good”) cholesterol increased by around 11 percent. Lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol means clearer arteries and less chance of plaque buildup. And yes, avocados are technically fruit!


The deep red hue of cranberries belies their antioxidant-rich properties, along with their deliciously tart flavor. Similar to avocados, the high concentrations of antioxidants contained within their ruby depths really give your cardiovascular health a boost by lowering LDL cholesterol and elevating HDL cholesterol levels. And the best thing about it? You can enjoy all the artery-scrubbing benefits of this fruit in a simple glass of pure cranberry juice. Easy as that.


Let’s face it: they’re a little bit weird. You’ve probably bypassed the occasional persimmon display at the supermarket because you simply didn’t trust the darn things. Are they oranges, tomatoes or something else? Whatever their loyalties, persimmons are positively overflowing with antioxidants and polyphenols. Like the avocado and cranberry, these help to decrease both LDL cholesterol and triglycerides from your bloodstream. It also just so happens that persimmons are high in fiber, which is a critical aspect of regulating blood pressure and cleansing your arteries on a regular basis.


It seems hard to believe that something so sweet and delicious can also play an important role in keeping your arteries clear and your heart healthy, but the experts seem to think it’s true. Watermelon contains plenty of a little thing called L-citrulline, an amino acid which lowers blood pressure and decreases inflammation. Therefore, it eases pressure on your arteries and promotes a healthy heart. Reflect on that next time you’re considering whether you’ve earned that next juicy slice of watermelon!

Vegetables and Spices.


It’ll come as no surprise to you that broccoli, that flowery green vegetable that your mom always forced you to eat, is dynamite when it comes to artery scrubbing. This bushy brassica is packed with vitamin K, an essential antioxidant which helps to prevent calcification and hardening of the arteries. Not only that, broccoli is surprisingly high in readily available fiber. As we know, this helps to support heart health by normalizing blood pressure and lubricating arterial walls against damage.


The delicious taste and non-sugary sweetness of cinnamon mean that you shouldn’t really need any other reasons to use cinnamon on a daily basis. But here’s another one. It turns out that a tablespoon of cinnamon every day can dramatically reduce LDL cholesterol levels while simultaneously preventing plaque buildup. This effect is further supported by the fact that cinnamon makes an excellent replacement for sugar. It provides that sought-after sweetness in your coffee or baking but without elevating blood sugar levels and increasing inflammation in your arteries.


Here’s another vegetable which has long received it’s fair share of fame due to its wide-ranging health properties. Spinach is a powerful ally to have on your side when it comes to cardiovascular peace of mind. Spinach contains loads of fiber, potassium and folate, which collectively help to lower blood pressure and keep your arteries humming along without a care in the world. In addition, this study showed that one serving per day of folate-rich leafy greens, spinach included, significantly lowered homocysteine levels, which are recognized as a contributor to cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis.


While technically not a vegetable, this powder derived from a particular species of blue-green algae holds its own in the vegetable department due to its vast array of amino acids. These amino acids surpass any found in any plant-based sources of protein, helping to fortify your health and regulate lipid levels in your blood. This, combined with plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, can significantly lower arterial inflammation and boost the health of your heart. Spirulina is best enjoyed as a nutrient-rich addition to your morning green smoothie or simply as a daily supplement.


Turmeric is a spice which just keeps getting better and better in the eyes of the health community. This powerful anti-inflammatory orange powder owes many of its health benefits to the ultra-high levels of curcumin. This compound has been shown to reduce the fatty deposits in our arteries by as much as 26 percent. Not only that, studies show that curcumin supplementation, or simply getting plenty of turmeric in your diet, can reverse arterial dysfunction and reduce the oxidative effects of aging on your arteries. All good news for your heart.


Coconut Oil.

If you’ve been following the dramatic rise of coconut oil in the alternative health community, you’ll probably be aware that the saturated fats found in this oil are loaded with essential nutrients. As a result, they’re amazingly good for your heart. The high concentrations of medium-chain triglycerides (MGT) in coconut oil can significantly reduce plaque buildup in your arteries. They can convert the cholesterol in your bloodstream into a form that is more readily available for utilization by your body. Far from saturated fats being a cause of heart disease (as the authorities led us to believe over the past 30 years), they are actually an important part of robust cardiovascular health.

Olive Oil.

Olive oil has been a favorite amongst health-savvy eaters for considerably longer than coconut oil, and for good reason. It has high concentrations of monounsaturated oleic acid. This is an essential fatty acid which has been linked to a lowering of triglycerides and a reduction of oxidative stress in the bloodstream. And while we’re on the topic, studies suggest that the positive effects of olive may be so profound that people who consume it on a regular basis have a 41 percent lower risk of stroke than those who don’t.

Seeds and Nuts.

Chia Seeds.

If you haven’t yet dabbled in the versatility of chia seeds, it’s time you did. They contain impressively high levels of both fiber and alpha-linolenic acids. These two important compounds work together to regulate blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol, increase HDL cholesterol and lower triglycerides. All important aspects of maintaining healthy arteries.

You’d probably be surprised by just how many delicious meals and snacks you can construct with chia seeds. Here are five recipes with chia seeds that I have a feeling you’ll love.


Due to their high levels of healthy fats and protein, nuts make an excellent snack alternative for anyone thinking of heart health. But in addition to their high fat and protein content, almonds contain plenty of vitamin E and fiber. Both of these support healthy artery function and robust cardiovascular function. If almonds aren’t really your thing, why not walnuts instead? They contain loads of alpha-linolenic acid, the same compound found in chia seeds. It reduces blood pressure, inflammation and keeps things running smoothly in your arteries.

Contributor: Liivi Hess, Alternative Daily

Dry Skin Brushing… A Path to Good Health

Dry Skin Brushing...A Path to Good Health

Claremont Colonic Center Dry Skin Brushing
The skin is the largest most important eliminative organ in the body and is responsible for one quarter of the body’s detoxification each day?
  • The skin eliminates over one pound of waste acids each day in the average adult, most of it through the sweat glands?
  • That the skin is known also as our third kidney?
  • That the skin receives one third of all the blood circulated in the body?
  • That the skin is the last to receive nutrients in the body, yet the first to show signs of imbalance or deficiency?

Detoxification is performed by a number of organs, glands, and transportation systems, including the skin, gut, kidneys, liver, lungs, lymphatic system, and mucous membranes. The dry brushing technique deals with detoxification of the skin.

Dry brushing is a way to stimulate all the above organs of detoxification because it provides a gentle internal massage.

Dry Brushing was recommended by the Finnish Dr. Paavo Airola for his patients 30 years ago and is still popular in European spas and many cancer treatment centers today. The Russians, Turks and Scandinavians have used this treatment for centuries. Dry brushing is promoted as a preventative for dry skin and a way to exfoliate the skin, thus stimulating skin renewal that is super soft to the touch, but there are many other benefits as well:

Removes cellulite

Cellulite is a non-scientific term defined as toxic deposits of subcutaneous fat material and fibrous tissue that are not able to be eliminated and which cause a dimpling effect on the overlying skin. These deposits most commonly occur on the thighs and hips of women. Cellulite can affect men and women of any body weight or size. What causes the toxins? Well, some think that we store the breakdown product of cells as toxins in this subcutaneous tissue. Others think that toxic emotions can be stored in the subcutaneous tissue which then builds up as cellulite.

Your best bets for getting rid of cellulite are dry brushing, connective tissue massage, working though the emotional issues that are causing the toxins to stagnate, eating foods that feed the skin, an alkaline diet program and a consistent/persistent exercise routine. These techniques will break down the unwelcome toxic body deposits and send them scurrying out your body through the elimination channels we discussed above. And your health will be SO much better for it!

Foods that feed the skin include foods that are rich in lecithin, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants such as eggs, organ meats, a balance of Omega-3-6-9 oils like Udo’s Choice, fresh dark green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, berries of all kinds, and dark chocolate (in condiment amounts—like an ounce a day!)

Cleanses the lymphatic system

Lymph is considered part of our immune system and is made of white blood cells called lymphocytes and the interstitial fluid that bathe our cells, bringing our cells nutrients and removing their waste. All detoxification occurs first and foremost through the lymph. Our bodies contain far more lymph than blood, so you can see how important this might be. Paavo Airola maintains that dry brushing is an essential part of any intestinal cleansing and healing program.

Dry brushing literally moves the lymph containing large proteins and particulate matter that cannot be transported in any other way back into circulatory system. If these proteins stayed in our systems outside the blood vessels, it would attract other fluid. Pretty soon we’d get swollen ankles, limbs and eventually we’d be leaking fluid out our skin (not a pretty sight.) This is called lymph edema and is why most health programs include some type of exercise and body work.

So, why don’t we die if we don’t do this dry brushing thing? Well, lymph vessels themselves have their own pumping mechanism sensing when the vessels have more fluid in them or in the interstitial fluids. Lymph only goes one way because of the many one-way valves on the insides of each lymph vessel. The body is a fascinating thing. It literally pumps the lymph along its path back to the heart. Removal of proteins from the interstitial spaces is an essential function. Without this happening, we would die within 24 hours. We can help speed this process up when we dry brush or massage toward the heart, contract our muscles and move our bodies (like when we walk or exercise.)

Increased lymph flow can also be caused by high blood pressure. This is why it is so important to attend to this malady and why the doctors get into a frenzy of prescribing so many different medications for it. (Currently there are over 140 medications for high blood pressure!)

Removes dead skin layers

Dry skin brushing helps shed dead skin cells, which can help improve skin texture and cell renewal. Dry skin is a sign of detoxification. Therefore it’s good to keep the process going by removing the dead skin daily. If this does not occur, a “log jam” can happen where the person ends up with eczema, psoriasis, and dandruff.

Strengthens the immune system

Dry skin brushing may reduce duration of infection and accelerate the clearing of toxins. It helps support the immune system during cancer and other chronic illness treatment. By stimulating the lymph vessels to drain toxic mucoid matter into organs of detoxification we can purify the entire system. After several days of dry brushing, sometimes you may notice a gelatinous mucoid material in your stools. This is a normal sign that the intestinal tract is renewing itself. Best of all, it feels invigorating!

Stimulates the hormone and oil- producing glands

…thus helping all of the body systems perform at peak efficiency. The skin is your body’s largest organ. When improperly maintained, the elimination duties of the skin are forced upon the kidneys. Chemical analysis of sweat shows that it has almost the same constituents as urine. If the skin becomes inactive, its pores choke with millions of dead cells, uric acid and other impurities which will remain in the body putting extra stress on the liver and kidneys. People with big hips and thighs usually have low-grade bladder infections. Another sign of this is that the body gives off a distinct sickening odor. When the bladder and kidney are really sick, the calves are often swollen as well and the feet stink. So, give your kidneys a break—keep your skin clean and rejuvenated. Bathe daily and do a dry brushing before the bath to help stimulate blood flow to the surface so that toxins can more easily escape.

Tightens the skin preventing premature aging

…which, in turn moves toxins and lessens the appearance of cellulite. Our bodies make a new top layer of skin every 24 hours – skin brushing removes the old top layer, allowing the clean new layer to come to the surface, resulting in softer, smoother skin

Tones the muscles

Dry skin brushing helps muscle tone by stimulating the nerve endings which causes the individual muscle fibers to activate and move. It also helps mobilize fat and helps to even distribution of fat deposits. This is a great technique for invalids who can’t exercise.

Stimulates circulation. Our skin breathes!

And yet, in most people, this vital route of detoxification is operating far below its capacity, because it is clogged with dead skin cells and the un-removed waste excreted through perspiration. Dry skin brushing increases circulation to skin, encouraging your body’s discharge of metabolic wastes. Increased blood flow begins entering the areas brushed and you will experience an increase in electromagnetic energy that permits you to feel energized and invigorated. By activating the circulation you can also prevent varicose veins.

Improves the function of the nervous system

Dry skin brushing rejuvenates the nervous system by stimulating nerve endings in the skin.

Helps digestion

Dry skin brushing helps your skin to absorb nutrients by eliminating clogged pores. Healthy, breathing skin contributes to overall body health. When you brush, the pores of your skin open allowing your skin to absorb nutrients and eliminate toxins. Clogged Dry Brushing:

To dry brush, use a soft natural fiber brush with a long handle, so that you are able to reach all areas of your body. One with a removable head is a good choice.Pores are not just a cosmetic concern. Healthy, breathing skin contributes to overall body health.

AND it’s easy, inexpensive and invigorating!

So, What Are You Waiting For?


Stress May Have Some Important Cognitive Benefits, New Study Suggests

Stress May Have Some Important Cognitive Benefits, New Study Suggests

Claremon Colonic Center

  • In a new study, people who reported feeling no stress experienced better moods and were less likely to have chronic health conditions than people who did face stressors.
  • However, the people who did not experience stress scored lower on cognition tests. They were also less likely to experience positive events and to give or receive emotional support than people who experienced stress.
If accurate, these findings could complicate the seemingly one-sided relationship between stress and health by suggesting that stress may play a positive role in some elements of health and well-being.

More than 75% of adults living in the United States report experiencing emotional or physical symptoms related to stress.

In addition, a recent survey that the American Psychological Association (APA) commissioned found that almost 78% of adults in the U.S. are experiencing significant stress associated with the current pandemic.

The body is equipped to handle small, occasional periods of stress, but researchers have linked excessive or chronic stress with a slew of negative health consequences, ranging from migraine headaches to cardiovascular problems.

Despite this, there has been little research investigating the possible association between experiencing less stress and an increase in health or well-being.

That is why a team of researchers from Penn State set out to explore whether people who experience little to no stress are healthier than people who do become stressed.

“The assumption has always been that stress is bad,” says senior author David M. Almeida, a professor of human development and family studies at Penn State.

“I took a step back and thought: What about the people who report never having stress? My previous work has focused on people who have higher vs. lower levels of stress, but I’d never questioned what it looks like if people experience no stress. Are they the healthiest of all?”

Stress and Health
Stress is a healthy human response that most people experience from time to time.

It can sometimes be helpful. Stress causes a release of epinephrine that makes it easier to do tasks and enhances performance and problem-solving skills.

This rush of epinephrine can also help prepare the body to handle a threat or flee for safety by increasing pulse, breathing rate, and muscle tension. Stress can also act as a source of motivation in everyday situations, such as completing a project or taking a test.

However, research shows that when stress becomes long-term, it can negatively affect every system in the body.

Over time, chronic stress can become debilitating. It can also increase the risk of serious health complications, such as obesity, depression, and heart disease.

Many symptoms of stress are easy to ignore or mistake for symptoms of other common conditions. The symptoms of chronic stress include:

  • Headaches
  • digestive problems
  • skin problems
  • pain
  • lack of energy, focus, and interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • being irritable, easy to anger, and forgetful
  • eating too much or too little
  • misuse of alcohol or drugs
  • feeling overwhelmed, anxious, fearful, or out of control
  • feeling depressed
  • insomnia
  • heart palpitations

While there is substantial proof of the negative health impacts of stress, little research has assessed whether experiencing less stress actually improves health. According to the new study’s findings, this connection may be more complicated than experts previously thought.

Stress May Have Cognitive Benefits
In the study, the researchers tracked 2,804 participants for just over a week. Before the study began, all of the participants completed a cognition test.

During the study, the researchers interviewed the participants nightly for 8 consecutive nights, asking questions about their chronic conditions, physical symptoms, mood, and the number of stressors they experienced during the day. They also asked the participants how many positive experiences they had had within the previous 24 hours.

About 10% of the participants did not report experiencing stress during the study period. These individuals were more likely to experience positive moods and less likely to have chronic health conditions.

On the other hand, the participants who did not experience stress scored lower on the cognition test than those who did. The difference in scores equated to the cognitive decline that would occur in approximately 8 years of aging.

Participants who did not report any stress also experienced fewer positive events than those who did, and they were less likely to give or receive emotional support. These participants were also more likely to be older, unmarried men.

“I think there’s an assumption that negative events and positive events are these polar opposites, but in reality, they’re correlated,” says Almeida.

“It’s possible that experiencing stressors creates opportunities for you to solve a problem — for example, maybe fixing your computer that has suddenly broken down before an important Zoom meeting,” Almeida adds.

“Experiencing these stressors may not be pleasant, but they may force you to solve a problem, and this might actually be good for cognitive functioning, especially as we grow older.”

Almedia notes that minor daily stressors might also be a marker of “a busy and maybe full life.” In this case, he says, “having some stress is just an indicator that you are engaged in life.”

More Research Necessary
More research is necessary to define the correlation between stress, health, and emotional well-being.

However, the link is unlikely to be clear and easy to define, given how many factors influence how someone experiences, responds to, and manages stress.

For example, on average, females and males have different mental and physical reactions to stress.

Some groups of people may also be more likely to have exposure to certain stressors. A 2020 study found that in the U.S., some Black and Hispanic people may experience higher rates of stress than white people, due primarily to socioeconomic factors.

Despite the challenge, these new findings could encourage more researchers to explore and better understand whether reducing stress improves health.

It will probably require substantial supportive research, as well as a total shift in how society and researchers view stress, before people start to see stress as a positive event.

However, Almeida says that the team’s findings may offer new insight into how to interact with and process stress, which is a largely unavoidable event for most people. He notes that the findings suggest it may be better to change the response to stress than to try to avoid it outright.

“Stressors are events that create challenges in our lives. And I think experiencing stressors is part of life,” says Almeida. “I think what’s important is how people respond to stressors. Responding to a stressor by being upset and worried is more unhealthy than the number of stressors you encounter.”

Contributor: Jennifer Huizen, Medical News Today