The ill-effects of stress are well known today, thanks to the media and internet. They are responsible for providing a huge web of health-related information, aimed at encouraging healthy living among people.
But it seems the harmful effects of chronic stress don't just limit themselves to increasing blood pressure and causing headaches; they extend much beyond that.
AdvertisementA new study, conducted by a team of researchers led by Professor Tracy Bale at the University of Pennsylvania, claims that stress may have a huge impact on men's sperm production, and may also influence the mental health of his possible children.
According to the study, chronic stress in adulthood, during the teenage years, or even as children may cause permanent genetic changes in the sperms of males.
This is actually the first time that a clear link has been established between chronic stress and its related ill-effects being passed down into the next generation, the researchers claim.
Published in the journal Neuroscience, this study was done in male mice. The mice were exposed to stress (exposed to predator odor, moved to another cage, noise etc) for 6 weeks before breeding. This chronic stress was found to spur a genetic change in the sperm of these mice, which then re-programmed a part of their offspring's brain.
"It didn't matter if dads were going through puberty or in adulthood when stressed before they mated. We've shown here for the first time that stress can produce long-term changes to sperm that reprogram offspring brains," Professor Bale claimed.
"These findings suggest one way in which paternal-stress exposure may be linked to such neuropsychiatric diseases," he added.
Stress has always been credited for numerous health issues; this one in particular may shed light on how dangerous chronic stress can actually be.