Links between Stress and the most common causes of Death

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After attending a recent nutrition workshop, it became apparent that stress can be linked to every major health problem. The top 4 causes of death within the UK are; Dementia, Heart Disease, Cancer and Diabetes. Although, since 2001 the “death rates from heart disease and stroke have halved for both males and females” and during this time, deaths from Dementia and Alzheimer disease has increased by half for women and by 60% for men.

1. Dementia and Alzheimer disease was the leading cause of death in the UK during 2015. Affecting women more than men, 15.2% of women suffered from it. For both males and females over 80, dementia and Alzheimer’s was the leading cause of death. There is a link between Dementia and Stress, unsurprisingly; stress causes brain lesions to form more quickly. However it has been concluded at this moment in time, that stress isn’t the sole reason for the development of Dementia, other factors play a role also.

Firstly the immune system plays a crucial part in developing Dementia, something that stress directly influences. Secondly, cortisol a hormone that is released when we are stressed, has been linked to memory problems. Lastly, often stress leads to Anxiety and Depression, which has been said to also increase the risk of dementia.

Also, there has been a link between diet and Dementia. Often bad diets induce memory problems which increase the chance of developing dementia. Often when we are stressed, we let go of ourselves, eat too many carbs, high fat foods and we certainly tend to overeat. Foods that have been said to be linked to dementia include; white bread, pasta, white sugar, white flour, cheese, sausages, cold cut meat. Foods that are said to negatively impact stress; white sugar, white bread, pasta, which cannot just be a coincidence.

Eating foods such as salmon and tuna, which are rich in omega-3, as well as lots of vegetables often, are said to help slow down conditions like Dementia.

2. Heart disease – the most common reason for death in males during 2015, stress can directly impact heart rate and blood flow; it can influence smoking and overeating which leads to obesity. All of which put you at a higher risk of suffering from a heart problem. Also, sudden emotional distress can influence cardiac problems. High-fat foods can also increase our chance of heart attacks, which is linked to stress also. Finally when you have high stress levels you have an increased amount of cortisol which increases the amount of fat that’s left in the abdomen. This often leaves you with fat on your tummy –which has an impact on your heart.

3. Stress and Diabetes are linked through the idea that if you are stressed, you are more likely to adopt unhealthy eating behaviours and more likely to drink larger volumes of alcohol, which has obvious consequences for diabetics. Secondly, stress raises the glucose levels of people with type 2 diabetes. Lastly, blood sugar levels are said to increase when your body is under physical stress.

4. It is predicted that 4 million people will be living with Cancer in 2030, and there is currently 2.5million people living with cancer at the moment. Cancers as a whole accounted for 30.0% of deaths in males and 24.8% of deaths in females in 2015. There is not enough evidence to state that stress is a cause of Cancer, but there is enough evidence to suggest that it can affect Cancer. For example, there was a study that found that stress triggers a gene called ATF3, which can ‘corrupt’ the immune system which allows Cancer to travel around the body quicker. As well as, stress can indirectly lead to Cancer. It encourages less healthy choices, such as smoking, overeating and heavy drinking, which all of which are activities that can lead to cancer.