Lowering stress as preventative medicine?

MacArthur “genius” speaks on the destructive effects of stress, and considers whether reducing it is a moral obligation

MacArthur “genius grant” recipient Robert Sapolsky, Ph.D., speaks at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio on the dangerous effects of stress, especially on those of lower social status.

His presentation on “Lowering Blood Pressure as a Moral Act: Stress, Health and Socioeconomic Status,” will consider whether there is a moral obligation to prevent stress due to its well-documented damaging effects on health.

Dr. Sapolsky’s visit is the seventh in the “Conversations About Ethics” series organized by the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics at the UT Health Science Center. Event sponsors include Methodist Healthcare Ministries and the Ecumenical Center for Religion and Health.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

  • 4 p.m.: Book signing
  • 5 p.m.: Presentation
  • 6:30 p.m.: Reception

Holly Auditorium at the UT Health Science Center, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio.

Dr. Sapolsky is a professor of biological sciences and of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University. He has spent decades studying how stress impacts health, both in the laboratory and in baboons in the Kenyan wilderness.

He has found that stress, an important evolutionary response to unexpected threats, has devastating consequences for health when it is turned on chronically for purely psychological reasons. Stress suppresses the immune system and raises the risk for serious conditions including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Humans and primates, with their complex emotional lives, are particularly susceptible, and those of lower status are most at risk.

Dr. Sapolsky has written several popular books on the topic, including “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide To Stress, Stress-Related Diseases and Coping.”

In 1987, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation named Dr. Sapolsky a MacArthur fellow. The prestigious award is popularly known as a “genius grant.”

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving federal funding. Research and other sponsored program activity totaled $231 million in fiscal year 2011. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced approximately 28,000 graduates. The $736 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.

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