This Everyday Habit Increases Your Risk of These Life-Threatening Diseases

Poor diet and lack of exercise aren’t the only risk factors for the world’s deadliest diseases. How much you worry from day to day also plays an important role in your chances of getting sick.

Too much stress could increase your risk for developing the following life-threatening health conditions. Learn what they are — and what you can do to prevent them.

Cancer

Cancer cell made in 3d software

Being under stress makes you more likely to engage in cancer causing activities. | iStock.com/vitanovski

Cancer is one of the most common — and one of the deadliest — chronic illnesses in the United States. Managing your stress levelsĀ  may be one way you can prevent it.

There isn’t much evidence that stress directly causes cancer. However, chronic stress does make you much more likely to engage in risky behaviors often associated with cancer. Smoking, abusing alcohol, and overeating all increase your cancer risk, warns the National Cancer Institute.

Eating disorders

Woman sitting over toilet

There are a number of eating disorders a person could develop. | iStock.com/vadimguzhva

There are a number of biological, psychological, social, and interpersonal risk factors for the development of anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders outlined in the DSM-5. Often, disordered eating behaviors develop in response to stress.

Men and women who experience stressful life events and interpersonal stressors are more likely to develop a number of eating disorders as a result.

Diabetes

Male Diabetic Checking Blood Sugar

Long-term stress can lead to type 2 diabetes. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

When your body no longer responds correctly to the hormone insulin, you can develop type 2 diabetes. People with this condition have to make significant changes to their diets and lifestyles to keep their blood sugar levels from becoming dangerously high.

Some research suggests long-term stress can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, especially if other risk factors like poor diet are also at play.

Heart disease

Human Heart Anatomy Illustration. 3D render

Heart disease can become life threatening if left untreated. | iStock.com/Nerthuz

The American Heart Association warns that persistent, long-term stress can lead to the development of heart disease, which can become life-threatening if it goes untreated.

Stress increases your blood pressure, which over time can damage the arteries that transport blood from your heart to other parts of your body. You’re also more likely to eat, smoke, or drink too much — all lifestyle factors that harm your heart.

Ulcerative colitis

focus on a toilet in the bathroom

Stress can make life harder for those who already have IBS. | iStock/Getty Images

Chronic stress can impact your immune system, which might cause a malfunction in the biological system that’s supposed to protect you from pathogens. Sometimes, your body ends up attacking itself. When this happens in the colon, symptoms of ulcerative colitis can develop.

Stress also makes life harder for people who already have irritable bowel diseases. It can cause flare-ups of painful symptoms even in those who usually manage their conditions well.

Obesity

A pair of female feet

A stress hormone may contribute to obesity. | iStock.com/Rostislav_Sedlacek

If you’re constantly stressed, and you have trouble losing weight, there might be a scientific link that explains how stress can cause extreme weight gain over time.

Stress releases a hormone called cortisol, which researchers believe might contributes to obesity and metabolic syndrome. Chronic stress can also lead to overeating, which leads to weight gain, changes in your gut microbiome, and more.

How to reduce stress and combat diseases

Young woman doing yoga

It’s important to take the time to relax. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

Are you under too much stress? Frequent headaches, acne, and extreme exhaustion might indicate you’re heading down a dangerous path toward serious diseases. It may be time to take control of your stress before it takes control of you.

There’s a lot you can do to get your stress levels under control. Exercise and meditation might help. If you’re dealing with job stress, you might be able to keep your job without sacrificing your health.

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