Did allostatic load contribute to the short lifespan of Sacramento parent, Sally T. based on being an orphan from the age of six? And did allostatic load get passed onto her son who also lived a relatively short lifespan based on witnessing the continuous fights between his parents as his dad punched his mother when she argued, effectively using anger to gain power and to keep his wife silent?
What about the allostaic load on the third generation, when the daughters children were kidnapped by their dad and sent to live with his mother in a third-world country? Allostatic load of stress may be banked and spent on each generation, passed down like an heirloom inheritance of stress, an antique of erosion leading to health issues.
Is ‘allostatic load’ wearing down and tearing down your health or the health of the children in your environment? Check out the October 27, 2011 news release, “Hard times during adolescence point to health problems later in life.” This new study demonstrates that social stressors around the transition into adulthood sow the seeds of disease in mid-adulthood.
According to the news release, if a teenager is going through hard times socially and financially during adolescence and early adulthood takes its toll on the body, and leads to physiological wear and tear in middle aged men and women, irrespective of how tough things have been in the interim.
According to Dr. Per E. Gustafsson from Umeå University in Sweden and colleagues, experience of social and material stressors around the time of transition into adulthood is linked to a rise in disease risk factors in middle age, including higher blood pressure, body weight and cholesterol. Their work is published online in Springer’s journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
Consider the health problems of so many Sacramento foster children aging out of the system at 18 with no place to go and no money for college or having a difficult time finding a job that pays enough to live independently.
If an apartment is shared with another person, will the difficult childhood or adolescence the person endured contribute to choosing an inappropriate person to share a home or apartment or lead to other types of friction in life? In the study, the authors looked at the influence of both social factors and material deprivation during adolescence and adulthood on the physiological wear and tear on the body that results from ongoing adaptive efforts to maintain stability in response to stressors.
These adaptive efforts are known as ‘allostatic load’. Allostatic load is thought to predict various health problems, including declines in physical and cognitive functioning, and cardiovascular disease and mortality. The researchers analyzed data for 822 participants in the Northern Swedish Cohort, which follows subjects from the age of 16 for a 27-year period.
They looked at measures of social adversity including parental illness and loss, social isolation, exposure to threat or violence and material adversity including parental unemployment, poor standard of living, low income and financial strain. They also examined allostatic load at age 43 based on 12 biological factors linked to cardiovascular regulation, body fat deposition, lipid metabolism, glucose metabolism, inflammation and neuroendocrine regulation.
They found that early adversity involved a greater risk for adverse life circumstances later in adulthood. The analyses revealed adolescence as a particularly sensitive period for women and young adulthood as a particularly sensitive period for men.
Specifically, women who had experienced social adversity in adolescence, and men who had experienced it during young adulthood, suffered greater allostatic load at age 43. This was independent of overall socioeconomic disadvantage and also of later adversity exposure during adulthood.
The authors conclude according to the news article: “Our results support the hypothesis that physiological wear and tear visible in mid-adulthood is influenced by the accumulation of unfavourable social exposures over the life course, but also by social adversity measured around the transition into adulthood, independent of later adversity, according to the news release citing the study’s results.” Also check out the article, Hard times during adolescence point to health problems later in life – Science Daily.
Read the study or its abstract: Gustafsson PE et al (2011). Social and material adversity from adolescence to adulthood and allostatic load in middle-aged women and men: results from the Northern Swedish Cohort. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. DOI 10.1007/s12160-011-9309-6.