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Iguana be surprised: animals reveal what really causes stress in ...


Iguana be surprised: animals reveal what really causes stress in humans

Experts have found that it seems to be rooted in environmental factors rather than behaviour

Faye Flam

Considering how bad stress is supposed to be for our bodies, it’s still a confusing concept. Is it worse for our health to have too much work or too little? To have too much responsibility or to be bored? The Covid-19 pandemic triggered lots of stress, even in people who never got the virus. It’s not clear how much forced isolation, fear or job losses harmed our health. 

But scientists are starting to identify the types of stress that damage us physically by studying other species — not just lab rats, but animals from whales to iguanas to fish. That research has already generated some understanding of the harm we have imposed on them through captivity, pollution and underwater noise. It might also help us understand the harms we impose on each other. 

Decades ago scientists established a questionable narrative that stress was associated with “Type A” personalities — people who try to do too much. Much of the foundational research was funded by the tobacco industry. It came out at a time in the mid-20th century when heart disease had been sharply rising in the US in parallel with the rise in smoking. ..

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