Most of us remember our teenage years with a mix of fondness and relief. Fondness for the good memories, and relief that all that teenage stress, angst and drama first love, gossip, SATs, fights with parents is behind us.
Or is it? It turns out, say UCLA researchers, that even stressful times from the teenage years exact a physical toll that could have implications for health during adulthood.
Andrew J. Fuligni, a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, 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, or CRP. CRP has been identified as an indicator for the later development of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
The study will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine and is currently available online (subscription only).
"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. "That suggests that alterations in the biological substrates that initiate CVD begin before adulthood."
Those everyday kinds of stressors, such as a fight with a parent or peer, are among the most frequent and powerful predictors of psychological distress among individuals, he said. That led the researchers to wonder: If stress could have a powerful psychological influence, could it have a physiological influence as well?
The study looked at a total of 69 adolescents, average age 17, from Latin American and European backgrounds, who completed a daily diary checklist each night for 14 days. In it, they reported any experiences of negative interpersonal
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University of California - Los Angeles