ROCKVILLE, Md. (CBSDC) – A new study has found that a woman’s sensitivity to stress is heightened by reading bad news stories.
The same study also reportedly found that men are not affected the same way by similar press coverage.
According to HealthDay, a team of researchers based at the University of Montreal asked 60 participants to read real news items, ranging from neutral in nature to negative. Some of the negative stories included coverage of accidents and murders.
Saliva samples were reportedly taken both before and after the exercise, so that researchers could measure levels of cortisol – a stress hormone – in relation to reading the articles, US News & World Report additionally found.
A third saliva sample was taken after participants completed memory and intelligence exercises that tested their reactions to stressful situations.
What the team found was that cortisol levels in the women who read negative news articles were higher after the stress tests than the levels in women who were given neutral stories.
“Although the news stories alone did not increase stress levels, they did make the women more reactive, affecting their physiological responses to later stressful situations,” lead author Marie-France Marin was quoted as saying in a press release by HealthDay. “Moreover, the women were able to remember more of the details of the negative stories. It is interesting to note that we did not observe this phenomenon amongst [sic] the male participants.”
She added: “It’s difficult to avoid the news, considering the multitude of news sources out there – and what if all that news was bad for us? It certainly looks like that could be the case.”
The study was published in the journal Plos One on Oct. 10. According to the press release, the study was called “There Is No News Like Bad News: Women Are More Remembering And Stress Reactive After Reading Real Negative News Than Men.”
The National Institute of Mental Health in Rockville, Md., noted that not all stress is inherently bad, and that some forms of stress can be “life-saving.”
“However, with chronic stress, those same nerve chemicals that are life-saving in short bursts can suppress functions that aren’t needed for immediate survival – your immunity is lowered and your digestive, excretory, and reproductive systems stop working normally,” the Institute’s web page on stress explained. “Once the threat has passed, other body systems act to restore normal functioning. Problems occur if the stress response goes on too long, such as when the source of stress is constant, or if the response continues after the danger has subsided.”