Apr-08 ABC1-TV 9:25p.m. | Stress: Portrait of a killer

March 13, 2010 by J-Wire
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A documentary from the UK featuring former Sydneysider Michael Marmot.

Stress-related diseases are some of the biggest killers in modern developed society, yet we know little about their root cause. That all changes in this unprecedented look at the revelatory science, based on the latest research by pioneering scientists including neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky, a professor at Stanford University. For over a quarter of a century he has been fascinated by why some people are crushed by stress while others seem to thrive on it.

Sapolsky divides his time between his brain laboratory at Stanford and his fieldwork in the Serengeti plains of East Africa. It turns out baboons provide an astonishingly close model to humans – at least where stress is concerned. Like us, they only spend a few hours a day satisfying their primary need – food – which leaves them at least three times that amount of time to get on each other’s nerves…again, just like us.

Sapolsky acts as a scientific detective, piecing together a fascinating case on how stress works its deadly magic: first, how stress attacks cells, then how each individual reacts, and finally how society impacts on stress.

Through his work and the work of several other pioneering scientists, including Michael Marmot and Elizabeth Blackburn, we start to make the connection between stress and our reaction to it, with amazing implications for how we choose to lead our lives.

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