MINI SERIES – Ep 2 of 3: How and Why Social Health Impacts Disease
In part two of our mini series focusing on how and why social health impacts disease Julian talks to Prof Steve Cole about how stress, isolation and its associated living conditions, has a cellular level impact on our bodies.
His research forms a fascinating piece of the puzzle which, as a whole, highlights what medicine misses when it looks at illnesses in isolation rather than looking at people in context.
”HOW THE WORLD WE LIVE IN, THE THINGS AROUND US, THE THINGS IN OUR HEAD, THE PEOPLE AROUND US, HOW ALL OF THAT KIND OF STUFF GETS INTO OUR BODIES AND CHANGES THE WAY THE GENOME FUNCTIONS”
This week Julian talks to Steve Cole, Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, who has a fantastic understanding of precisely how stress, and life in general, changes us on a cellular level. Having discovered in his some of his earliest research that gay men with HIV in the closet were getting sick and dying ‘20 to 30% faster than those who were out of the closet’, he came to realise that there were huge gaps in our understanding of how illness affects people differently. Genetics was not answering all of the questions.
In his work since, and throughout this podcast, Professor Cole has elucidated the historic and evolutionary reasons that our immune system shuts down when we are dealing with stress, or loneliness, or PTSD, and the like. He talks about what is happening in our cells that means that people who live under duress develop certain illnesses at much higher rates than those that don’t, how this plays out in racialised communities, and what the opposite is of this on a cellular level. What are the types of happiness, and what do they bring? And how can we plan for that at a population level.