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Yet Another Reason to be Stressed

Stressed? Most of us are at one time or another, and the last thing we need is for our immune systems to let us down during busy times. But if you're under stress, you'll get sick more often. And if you get Swine Flu, you may have to deal with the military: the Defense Dept. wants to establish regional teams of soldiers to assist civilian authorities in the event of a significant outbreak of the H1N1 virus this fall.

On the CNN website, Barbara Starr reports on a plan to have the military work in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Since by "military," we assume they mean the National Guard, the question is: can they spare them from the wars we're fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Whether it's getting a cold during exam time or feeling run-down after a big meeting, we've all experienced feeling sick following a particularly stressful time at work or school. Is this merely coincidence, or is it possible that stress can actually make us sick? Investigates are studying how stress and negative emotions (such as depression and anxiety) affect our health.

Stressed people not only have weaker immune systems, they have weaker responses to vaccines. This means that if scientists DO come up with a Swine Flu vaccine, it won't work as well if you're stressed. Researcher Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser says, "The evidence that stress and distress impair vaccine responses has obvious public health relevance because infectious diseases can be so deadly."

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