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Worry Promotes Asthma Development

Sep 24, 2014 02:49 PM EDT

It has long been known that stress is a dangerous thing. Now, researchers have found that intense and consistent worry can lead to the sudden development of asthma in people who have never experienced shortness of breath before.

According to a study recently published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, people who are living with worry on a daily basis are 60 percent more likely to experience first-time asthma, even as adults.

Traditionally, asthma is diagnosed while a person is still young. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), doctors can identify symptoms of asthma during routine physical exams and spirometry tests. However, the disease does not always present itself during these examinations.

When it does show itself, is when someone is having an asthma attack - a dangerous shortness of breath that can potentially cause asphyxiation if not treated.

In this latest study, a team of researchers analyzed data collected in the German Socio-Economic Panel Study, which surveys a representative sample of the adult German working population every year.

This data of more than 7,000 working adults showed that people suffering from job insecurity - that is, those worried about losing their jobs - were stunningly more vulnerable to having a late-in-life asthma attack despite never before being diagnosed with the disease.

Amazingly, there was nearly an exact correlation between level or worry and likelihood of new, onset asthma, in which every 25 percent increase in perceived likelihood of job loss was tied to a 24 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with the disease.

It's important to note that while this does not necessarily mean that stress causes asthma - there are a great number of more concrete physiological explanations - it does suggest that heightened stress can reveal it.

While the study simply highlights a correlation, and not a cause-and-effect relationship, the authors also suggest their findings may "provide a possible explanation for the increased prevalence of respiratory symptoms during the recent economic crisis in the UK."

So relax. Despite all the cause for worry in the world, even medical science shows that worrying too much can just make things worse.

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