HHS HealthBeat (December 17, 2009)
Non-fighting words

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From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

Arguing can raise levels of body chemicals called cytokines, which fight infection. But continued high levels of cytokines are associated with conditions such as heart disease.

Researcher Jennifer Graham at Penn State has been looking at ways for couples to work on their differences without amping up their cytokines.

As part of her study, she had couples flip the hot switches on topics like money and in-laws.

Graham found that use of reasoning words during a fight controlled cytokines. So reasoning may be better than fighting, for your health and relationship – and:

[Jennifer Graham speaks] “Expressing yourself clearly and thinking deeply about conflict may also help lead to a resolution of the situation.”

The study in the journal Health Psychology was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Learn more at hhs.gov.

HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.

Last revised: December, 16 2009