March 16, 2009

Teenage stress impacts adult health

The stress of first love, first break up, gossip, exams and fights with parents can impact teens' health when they become adults, U.S. researchers said.

Andrew J. Fuligni of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues report that in a study of otherwise healthy, normal teens who self-reported various negative interpersonal interactions, researchers found that a greater frequency of such stress was associated with higher levels of an inflammatory marker called C-reactive protein.

C-reactive protein has been identified as an indicator for the later development of cardiovascular disease.

Although most research on stress and inflammation has focused upon adulthood, these results show that such links can occur as early as the teenage years, even among a healthy sample of young men and women, Fuligni said in a statement.

That suggests that alterations in the biological substrates that initiate cardiovascular disease begin before adulthood.

The researchers tracked 69 adolescents, average age 17, from Latin American and European backgrounds, who completed a daily diary and reported any experiences of negative interpersonal interaction with family, peers or school personnel.

The study, published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, found that daily interpersonal stress experienced during the high school years was associated with elevated levels of inflammation, as measured by higher levels of C-reactive protein, even among normal, healthy teens.