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Negative Emotions Hurt Flu Immunity

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Sept. 2 , Sep 02, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Positive thinking or at least thinking of positive events on one's life can impact how effective an influenza shot works.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin report that the activation of brain regions associated with negative emotions appears to weaken people's immune response to a flu vaccine.

"It's the first time that the brain has really been brought into the picture," said Dr. Richard J. Davidson, director of the university's Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience and author of the study that appears in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the study of 52 women, ages 57 to 60, half were asked to think and write about extremely positive events in their lives for six minutes and the other half did the same with extremely negative events. Then they were all given a flu shot.

Six months later, the researchers found, the subjects who showed the most activity in the brain's right prefrontal cortex -- the part of the brain that deals with anger, fear and sadness -- also had the lowest antibodies.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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