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

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Introduction

To what extent does research support the link between stress and the immune system? Many studies have shown that stress can affect the immune system. One of which is a study into the functioning of the immune system by Kiecolt-Glaser et al. the purpose of this study was to investigate whether the stress of important examinations has an affect on the functioning of the immune system. The findings of this study are that the second blood sample showed a reduced NK cell activity, this sample was taken during their final examinations. There seemed to be a link between participants that had reported high levels of life events and loneliness and the reduction in NK cell activity. ...read more.

Middle

Generalizations should be made with cautions and considerations; this is because only natural stressors were used so it had ecological validity. Another study so assess in terms of the question would be the 'executive monkey' study by Brady et al. this study was preformed to investigate whether the stress of receiving electric shocks would lead to stress-related illness in monkeys and whether this would change with the degree of control over the shocks. The findings of this study where that the monkeys on this schedule could have avoided not all shocks. After 23 days of the 'executive monkey' being shocked he began to die due to stomach ulceration; this is usually caused by stress. ...read more.

Conclusion

This study is unethically and could not be repeated today. This study was also poorly controlled because Brady chose to use the most active monkeys as the executives. The executive monkeys were generally more active than the yoked group (monkey's who got shocks without being able to avoid them); this could have made the monkeys more sensitive to the stress of the shocks. Both groups should have been made up of monkeys that were equally active. To evaluate this I would say that suppression of the immune system may not necessarily lead to illness, disease and infection if the immune functions remain in a healthy normal range. Research evidence only suggests that there is a link between stress and the immune system and in some cases this is because of suppression of the immune system. ...read more.

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