September 15, 2010
Massage Lowers Stress Marker Cortisol

Hey, trying to stay healthy involves all sorts of sacrifices like eating dark chocolate. I realize some of you feel burdened every time you read about yet another thing you should do to improve your health. One more obligation, yet another chore. Staying healthy is hard work. I can't offer you relief because here's another one: You've got to get regular massages to lower stress.

LOS ANGELES – Sept. 7, 2010 – Researchers in Cedars-Sinai's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences have reported people who undergo massage experience measureable changes in their body's immune and endocrine response.

Although there have been previous, smaller studies about the health benefits of massage, the Cedars-Sinai study is widely believed to be the first systematic study of a larger group of healthy adults.

No shirking your responsibility. Buck it up. The arguments for Swedish massage are just too compelling to ignore:

Among the study's results:

  • People in the Swedish massage group experienced significant changes in lymphocytes ,(lymphocyte numbers and percentages white blood cells that play a large role in defending the body from disease.
  • Swedish massage caused a large decrease (effect size -.74) in Arginine Vasopressin (AVP) a hormone believed to play a role in aggressive behavior and linked to helping cause increases in the stress hormone cortisol.
  • Swedish massage caused a decrease in levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • Swedish massage caused a notable decrease in most cytokines produced by stimulated white blood cells.

Do not dismiss the cortisol-lowering benefits of massage. High cortisol is associated with a much higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Chevy Chase, MD—High levels of the stress hormone cortisol strongly predict cardiovascular death among both persons with and without pre-existing cardiovascular disease according to a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

In stressful situations, the body responds by producing the hormone cortisol. The effects of cortisol are intended to help the body recover from stress and regain a status of homeostasis, however chronically elevated cortisol levels have been associated with cardiovascular risk factors, such as the metabolic syndrome and accelerated atherosclerosis.

The highest level of cortisol is assocated with a 5 times greater risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Researchers found that urinary cortisol did not increase the risk of non-cardiovascular mortality but did increase cardiovascular mortality risk. The third of the subjects with the highest urinary cortisol had a five-fold increased risk of dying of cardiovascular disease.

Chocolate also appears to cut cortisol and also cut risk of cardiovascular disease.

So when you go for a massage take some dark chocolate along to eat at the same time. Also, marriage and romance lower cortisol.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 September 15 11:14 PM  Aging Lifestyle Studies

Wolf-Dog said at September 16, 2010 8:16 AM:

Meditation and concentration exercises might be as effective as Swedish massage.

1099 tax said at September 20, 2010 10:15 AM:

nice advice, your advice works for me, it has lowered my hypertension to half.

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