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Anger, stress, dysregulation produces wear and tear on the lung
  1. P Lehrer
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr P Lehrer
    Department of Psychiatry, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA; lehrer{at}

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A link between chronic anger and age related deterioration in pulmonary function

The relationship between psychological and physical states has been known to medicine since the time of the ancient Greeks.1 Although at one time patients with diseases of unknown origin (such as tuberculosis in the 19th century) were labelled as suffering from a psychological or moral malady, this error (and often injustice) does not negate truths about the mind/body relationship in disease. Indeed, scientific interest in and speculation even about mind/body effects on tuberculosis remains high.2

In this issue of Thorax, Kubzansky et al3 have published an important paper on the relationship between decline in lung function in older men and the emotional characteristic of anger. This coincides with a considerable literature on the relationship between anger and cardiovascular disease.4 As the “fight” component in the fight-flight reflex, the psychophysiology of anger overlaps with that of stress. Stress related factors are known to depress immune function5 and increase susceptibility to or exacerbate a host of diseases and disorders including asthma,6 hypertension,7 upper respiratory infection,8 various skin diseases,9 chronic fatigue syndrome,10 irritable bowel syndrome,11 vasovagal syncope12

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