• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Health Note

Air Date: Week of

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

Living on Earth’s Diane Toomey reports on a study about how mild depression among the elderly can affect their immune system.


CURWOOD: Coming up, how an herbicide in compost is killing garden plants in the Pacific Northwest. First, this environmental Health Note from Diane Toomey.


TOOMEY: Even mild depression can affect the immune systems of the elderly. That's according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, who administered a standard questionnaire to a group of healthy older adults to determine who was suffering from depression. Then they used a mitogen to test the immune system function both at the beginning and end of the year-and-a-half-long study. A mitogen is a plant-derived substance that stimulates T-cell production in the body in the way bacteria or viruses would. Researchers found that those with mild but chronic depression had a 15 percent weaker immune system response compared to those who were not depressed. What's more, the older a depressed person was, the poorer the immune system response. Researchers say that mild depression often goes undetected or untreated in the elderly. But that's a mistake, they add, since chronic mild depression can exacerbate, and even accelerate, the immune system decline that typically accompanies aging. That's this week's Health Note. I'm Diane Toomey.

CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.

[MUSIC: Eberhard Weber, "Concerto for Bass", ENDLESS DAYS (ECM - 2001)]



Center for the Advancement of Health">


Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth