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Neurosis Can Cause Asthma, Study Says

Another thing to worry about

by
Jesse Oxfeld
October 23, 2009

Is it possible that the Woody Allen stereotype of the neurotic, asthmatic, nebbishy Jewish guy actually has some basis in truth? (Don’t all stereotypes?) Reuters is reporting on a recent academic study (conducted in Germany, stereotypically) that finds a link between neurosis and respiratory trouble. “People who are neurotic—they tend to worry a lot and to have emotional ups and downs—seem to be at increased risk of developing asthma, a new study hints,” Reuters says. “Animal studies have shown that chronic stress alters hormone levels, which can inflame airways making it difficult to breathe. Researchers believe that neurotic character traits may exert similar effects. If so, then helping neurotic people to calm down or ‘chill out’ could, theoretically, reduce their risk of asthma.” Call us neurotic, but that “theoretically” seems like a pretty big hedge.

Jesse Oxfeld, a former executive editor and publisher of Tablet Magazine, is a freelance theater critic. He was The New York Observer’s theater critic from 2009 to 2014.

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