When it comes to living a healthy life, mental and emotional factors must be taken into account, as well as the usual physical ones as they can have an impact on longevity.
A new study, headed by Dr. Tom Russ, of the University of Edinburgh, found that stress, worry, anxiety, and depression are all associated with the liver, which could lead people to having a shorter life.
The research is interesting as it is the first of its kind to make a direct correlation between the liver and a person’s mental disposition.
While previous studies have highlighted the connection between mental health and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, it has never been connected to the body’s largest organ, the liver.
As Dr. Russ told reporters, “This type of study can’t show cause and effect so it’s possible they could have had undiagnosed liver disease, and symptoms from this were causing the psychological distress. But even when we looked at just the later deaths – the association was still there.”
Dr. Russ added that, “The study took into account alcohol consumption, smoking, obesity and socioeconomic status and the association remained even after adjusting for those factors. So there seems to be something else going on.”
He spoke about how his research team were able to identify the association between worry, stress, and liver disease, although admitted that medically speaking, they had no idea why.
In Dr. Russ’ words, “I’d be surprised if there was a direct link, it’s difficult to think of a biological mechanism by which psychological distress could cause liver disease. There could be a common cause which links them, such as inflammation. Going forward this association needs to be replicated in an independent study, and then possible biological mechanisms for the link can be investigated.”
One of the main discoveries of the new study was the fact that a healthy body is very much dependent on a healthy mind, a fact that many people who have suffered from depression will tell you.
Dr. Russ concluded, “This study provides further evidence for the important links between mind and body, and of the damaging effects psychological distress can have on physical wellbeing. While we are not able to confirm direct cause and effect, this study does provide evidence that requires further consideration in future studies.”
[Image credit: onychairuk.kinja.com]