The term Allostatic load was coined by Bruce McEwen (2000) and refers to the physiological costs of chronic exposure to the neural or neuroendocrine stress response. It is used to explain how frequent activation of the body's stress response, an essential tool for managing acute threats, can in fact damage the body in the long run. Allostatic load is generally measured through a composite index of indicators of cumulative strain on several organs and tissues, but especially on the cardiovascular system..
The term Allostatic Overload was coined by Syd (Mac) McLeod who in late 1983 realised that the health problems as suffered by War Veterans could not possibly be caused in isolation by psychiatric, chemical or radiation exposures. And the evidence was before everybody’s eyes. That was the beginning of a long journey of understanding by Mac that to this very day is only just starting to be understood by all the branches of medical science that this condition affects.
www.allostaticoverload.com is intended to act as a lobby for medical research to be done into chronic stress overload to see how it is affecting the HPA Axis,the auto immune system,cellular structure and gene composition. The combined buildup of the previous is called Allostatic Load and when it overloads it is called Allostatic Overload. Although it affects the whole community it is particularly noticeable in soldiers who go from the healthiest of there nations to the unhealthiest.
It now seems fairly clear that stress is part of our evolutionary process and could be termed good stress. Excessive traumatic stress however seems to damage the immune system as well as changing gene structure so it would be termed as bad stress and we have an epidemic of bad stress around the world today.
It has been proven that stress changes the biology of animals, insects and plants in fact in some cases a hidden gene code has been revealed. Sadly we have to rely on those species to have some idea in what transpires with humans, because of the penchant for psychiatric rather then scientific medical research in this regard on humans.
Although the current Nobel Prize winners for medicine proved several years ago that telomeres are proven to irreversibly mutate /change from low level stress.
Studies of what is now termed as Allostatic Load (AL) have also revealed that there are noticeable differences between ethnic and gender lines in scales of AL. This would suggest that some of the extremes may be managed by intervention.
Although this condition affects the community across the board it is our contention that to really understand what Allostatic Load is really doing to human biology we should take advantage of medically testing NEW combat soldiers as they take the brunt of not only all the other stress the population endures but also have extremes beyond that.
It is also a proven that these once perfectly healthy individuals fall victim to AL at a much earlier stage then the general population despite some of the results effecting the population at large in specific areas.
Considering the enormity of the implications of what AL is doing and the possibility it may well be a semi magic bullet in managing the community health, I can think of no other research more important in this world today other then an all out (bi partisan) immediate assault on the problem by all stake holders in human health. Because as we all know prevention is far cheaper then cures.