The American Institute of Stress in Yonkers, New York, estimates that 90 percent of all
visits to doctors are for stress-related disorders. In women, stress has been linked to
fatigue, hair loss, bad complexion, insomnia, disruption of the menstrual cycle, low
libido and lack of orgasm, among others. There's even evidence that it can increase your
risk of more serious problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
Stress speeds up your entire system and produces conditions in younger people that are
more commonly associated with growing old. Virtually no part of your body can escape the
ravages of stress.
Studies show that stress can reduce the power of our immune systems. A study in
exposed 266 people to a common cold virus and then tracked who became sick. 28.6 percent
of those with few signs of stress caught the cold. However, the figure jumped to 42.4
percent for those who were under high stress.
Other studies show that women who have trouble coping with stress may be at risk of
building up dangerous abdominal fat. A study at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut,
of 42 obese women found that those with abdominal fat (apple shaped) secreted more stress
hormones than those who carry extra weight on their hips (pear shaped). It is known that
apple-shaped people are more at risk of heart disease.
Stress increases heart rate and blood pressure. It changes the inner lining of our
blood vessels, making our blood more likely to clot. Stress may change the way cholesterol
is handled by our blood vessels and, in doing so, may increase plaque formation.
A study of 5,872 pregnant women in Denmark showed that women who are under moderate to
high stress in the last trimester are 1.2 to 1.75 times more likely to give birth
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