Stress on the Immune System

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Outline and evaluate research into the effects of stress on the immune system The immune system helps fight off attacks from ‘foreign invaders’, the immune system is a network of cells, tissues and organs that help fight off attacks from viruses, parasites and micro organisms that enter our bodies that can cause infections and other problems. The idea that all the cells in our bodies have codes ‘tattooed’ onto them that are unique to each of us help us understand what the immune system does clearer. Whenever micro organisms ect, enter our bodies and don’t have our individual codes on them the immune system seeks these out and destroys them our bodies remember these and will make the us immune to them if they ever enter our bodies again. Brady et al (1958) investigated if illness and death could be a result of stress, for this monkeys were put in pairs and given electric shocks every 20 seconds over a 6 hour period. One of the monkeys in each pair could push a button that would postpone each shock but the other could not delay them. The monkeys that could delay the shocks were put into so much stress that they had a higher chance of developing stomach ulcers and later die. This shows us that stress can affect our immune systems and cause us to develop illnesses and in some extreme cases even die. The strengths of this experiment is that it can give us more of an inside to what stress can do to the immune system and the body and we can see that people who have little control on their lives can experience high levels of stress which will affect the body’s immune system. The weaknesses of this is that the experiment was unethical and cruel to the monkeys, research like this would not be allowed to happen now and that we can’t assume that the human body would react the same way as the monkeys in similar and stressful situations.
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