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D. Psychological Stress and Its Effects on Aging

Narrator: This is Science Today. Have you ever described a person undergoing a stressful event as having aged overnight? While the correlation between stress and wear and tear on the body have been linked before, there's never been physiologic proof. That is, until researchers at the University of California, San Francisco measured a chemical called telomerase, which plays a key role in cellular aging, in response to psychological stress. Psychologist Elissa Epel led the study.

Epel: Even though we thought this relationship might exist, to actually see that psychological stress, reported perceptions, numerical ratings on some page were related to these minute cellular processes that we just recently learned how to measure well to see that they were actually related in a consistent way was mind blowing.

Narrator: Epel says it's exciting to think of all the possibilities of how this might be applied to improving health and measuring how effective interventions are.

Epel: Mind body interventions or even pharmacological interventions.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.