Long-term stress appears to damage caregivers’ immune systems

Taking care of chronically ill loved ones over long periods stresses caregivers, as everyone knows, but a new study provides strong new evidence that such continuing stress boosts the risk of age-related diseases by prematurely aging caregivers’ immune systems. Levels of a damaging compound known as a proinflammatory cytokine not only increased considerably faster among those taking care of ailing spouses but also continued to increase faster for years after the spouses died.

Combined hormone replacement therapy boosts stroke, dementia

Last March, a multi-center national study made headlines by concluding that taking a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin did not improve the quality of life for women who are free of menopause-related symptoms but did expose them to a slightly higher risk of heart attacks, strokes and breast cancer. For that reason, many medical scientists began recommending against the combined therapy in the absence of such symptoms, saying the risks of estrogen plus progestin outweighed the benefits.