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Flu: Is the Recession Saving Us?

Physicians can't figure out why the Swine Flu pandemic never happened and why there is so little ordinary flu around. It could be that the stress of the economic recession is strengthening our immune systems (and many of us have other types of stress as well!)

A new study using mice suggests that a repeated stressful situation that triggers the animals' natural "fight-or-flight" response may actually enhance their ability to fight disease when they are re-exposed to the same pathogen. The study showed that the stressed mice had a 10-fold increase in their resistance to an influenza infection, and that this protection lasted at least up to 3 months after the stressful episodes.

While appearing to clash with years of findings that showed stressful situations can LOWER an individual's immune response, the new work actually does not. Instead, it offers new insight into the fine balance the immune system maintains to protect against disease. Researcher John Sheridan explains that, "Not all stress suppresses the immune system. Some stressors actually give rise to enhanced immune responses."

We want to deliver a small but subtle warning to all our readers and listeners: The recession may be saving us from the flu, but it's hitting us hard and if we don't get more support from you out there, we will soon be more of a memory than Bird Flu. So if you really do love us, buy a tee shirt, get a beautiful calendar, but whatever ELSE you do: subscribe today!

Art credit: Dreamstime.com

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