Richard G. Petty, MD

Hostility and Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance – a reduction in the body’s ability to respond to insulin – is something that should interest and concern all of us. Not only are a third of Americans insulin resistant, with much higher rates in people of African and Indian heritage, but also insulin resistance is the major predictor of the development of type 2 diabetes and of coronary artery disease.

We already knew that stress and certain personality factors, including hostility can be associated with insulin resistance. Now new research from The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio has clarified the association.

The study involved 643 men with an average age of 63.1 years, and the findings are published in the current issue of Psychosomatic Medicine.

The researchers measured the subjects’ urine levels of norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is one of the objective indicators of stress. The researchers used standard rating scale – the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and the Cook-Medley Hostility scale – to measure hostility. Insulin resistance was measured using some highly validated methods: the homeostatic model assessment index; 2-hour post-challenge glucose and insulin levels. The study had to be large because some many things can influence insulin resistance: nine other common variables had to be factored in to the analysis.

The study found that there was a statistical interaction between hostility and stress level in predicting insulin resistance. More hostile people do not always have worse insulin resistance, but they do when they are under stress, particularly if it is high level and sustained stress.

The team also found that not all components of hostility are related to insulin resistance. For instance, cynicism is a personality trait that is strongly related to insulin resistance.

We do not know if stress management techniques can reduce the risk of developing insulin resistance in these high-risk people, but it is likely that they will.

Yoga, tai chi ch’uan, meditation, psychotherapy may all be helpful. The best results of all have been to combine one or other of these with homeopathy, flower essences and spiritual counseling. We have little empirical research for these combined approaches, but a great deal of clinical experience that they may be beneficial.

If you notice that you or someone around you has a hostile, cynical way of handling stress, let them know that they are at high risk of developing a physical illness, but that there is a great deal that they can do for themselves before they fall off the cliff.

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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