From Science Daily:
A Rice University study has found a link between emotional stress and diabetes, with roots in the brain’s ability to control anxiety.
That control lies with the brain’s executive functions, processes that handle attention, inhibition, working memory and cognitive flexibility and are also involved in reasoning, problem-solving and planning.
The study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology establishes a metabolic chain reaction that starts with low inhibition, aka attention control, which leaves a person vulnerable to tempting or distracting information, objects, thoughts or activities. Previous studies have shown that such vulnerability can lead to more frequent anxiety, and anxiety is known to activate a metabolic pathway responsible for the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, signaling proteins that include interleukin-6 (IL-6).
Along with cognitive tests that measured attention control, the Rice study measured levels of both blood glucose and IL-6 in more than 800 adults. IL-6 is a protein the body produces to stimulate immune response and healing. It is a biomarker of acute and chronic stress that also has been associated with a greater likelihood of diabetes and high blood glucose.
The research showed individuals with low inhibition were more likely to have diabetes than those with high inhibition due to the pathway from high anxiety to IL-6. The results were the same no matter how subjects performed on other cognitive tests, like those for memory and problem-solving.
Researchers have suspected a link between anxiety and poor health, including diabetes, for many years but none have detailed the biological pathway responsible, said lead author…