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To what extent does research support a link between stress and the immune system?

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Introduction

To what extent does research support a link between stress and the immune system? Psychologists are concerned with the contribution stress makes to the onset and development of illness. Stress may reduce efficiency of the immune system. This will lower the body's resistance to disease. The way the body responds to stress is a very complex process. In response to a stressor the hypothalamus directs the pituary gland to release ACTH hormone, this travels to the adrenal cortex, which releases more hormones, these hormones suppress the immune system. One way the immune system is measure is by the number of B and T cells. Glaser et al studied 40 medical students for 6 weeks before their exams and again during their exams. ...read more.

Middle

Riley investigated the lymphocyte count in mice when exposed to stress. He caused them to be stressed by placing them on a turntable rotating at 45rmp. Over 5 hours the lymphocyte count was markedly decreased. This shows a relationship between stress and the immune system but is not an entirely valid piece of research. It is not ecologically valid as it has been carried out in a lab and it also extrapolates information from mice and says this could be the same in humans. It is also unethical, therefore this questions the reliability to the research that supports the view there is a link between stress and the immune system. ...read more.

Conclusion

The research is ecologically valid and does not extrapolate although is does not take into account any other factors that could cause immune cells not to reproduce as efficiently and therefore cannot be used to support the theory there is a link between stress and the immune system. Overall Evidence does suggest that the experience if stress does suppress the immune system, although when carefully evaluating the research you find you can question the reliability of the research for such reasons as it doesn't take into account other factors could cause suppression of the immune system. A number of studies have indicate that although a stressor affects one part of the immune system, others are not effected, and. The description of the immune system is not complete, the immune system is extremely complex therefore more research needs to be carried out to understand it thoroughly. ...read more.

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