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UCLA Study on Friendship among Women

for men and women (not directly IV Therapy related, but interesting!):



By Gale Berkowitz

A landmark UCLA study suggests friendships between women are special. They
shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous
world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who
really are. By the way, they may do even more.

Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our friends can actually
counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a
daily basis. A landmark UCLA study suggests that women respond to stress
with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain
friendships with other women. It's a stunning find that has turned five
decades of stress research---most of it on men---upside down. "Until this
study was published, scientists generally believed that when people
experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade that revs the body to
either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible," explains Laura Cousin
Klein, Ph.D., now an Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health at Penn
State University and one of the study's authors. "It's an ancient survival
mechanism left over from the time we were chased across the planet by
saber-toothed tigers."

"Now the researchers suspect that women have a larger behavioral
than just fight or flight. In fact," says Dr. Klein, "it seems that when
hormone oxytocin is released as part of the stress responses in a woman,
buffers the fight or flight response and encourages her to tend children
gather with other women instead. When she actually engages in this tending
or befriending, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which
further counters stress and produces a calming effect. This calming
does not occur in men," says Dr. Klein, "because testosterone--which men
produce in high levels when they're under stress--seems to reduce the
effects of oxytocin. Estrogen," she adds, "seems to enhance it."

The discovery that women respond to stress differently than men was made
a classic "aha" moment shared by two women scientists who were talking one
day in a lab at UCLA. "There was this joke that when the women who worked
the lab were stressed, they came in, cleaned the lab, had coffee, and
bonded," says Dr. Klein. "When the men were stressed, they holed up
somewhere on their own. I commented one day to fellow researcher Shelley
Taylor that nearly 90% of the stress research is on males. I showed her
data from my lab, and the two of us knew instantly that we were onto

The women cleared their schedules and started meeting with one scientist
after another from various research specialties. Very quickly, Drs. Klein
and Taylor discovered that by not including women in stress research,
scientists had made a huge mistake: The fact that women respond to stress
differently than men has significant implications for our health

It may take some time for new studies to reveal all the ways that oxytocin
encourages us to care for children and hang out with other women, but the
"tend and befriend" notion developed by Drs. Klein and Taylor may explain
why women consistently outlive men. Study after study has found that
ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate,
cholesterol. "There's no doubt," says Dr. Klein, "that friends are helping
us live longer."

In one study, for example, researchers found that people who had no
increased their risk of death over a 6-month period. In another study,
who had the most friends over a 9-year period cut their risk of death by
more than 60%. Friends are also helping us live better.

The famed Nurses' Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the
more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical
impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be leading a
joyful life. In fact, the results were so significant, the researchers
concluded, that not having close friends or confidants was as detrimental
your health as smoking or carrying extra weight! And that's not all!

When the researchers looked at how well the women functioned after the
of their spouse, they found that even in the face of this biggest stressor
of all, those women who had a close friend and confidante were more likely
to survive the experience without any new physical impairments or
loss of vitality. Those without friends were not always so fortunate.

Yet if friends counter the stress that seems to swallow up so much of our
life these days, if they keep us healthy and even add years to our life,
is it so hard to find time to be with them? That's a question that also
troubles researcher Ruthellen Josselson, Ph.D., co-author of Best Friends:
The Pleasures and Perils of Girls' and Women's Friendships (Three Rivers
Press, 1998). "Every time we get overly busy with work and family, the
thing we do is let go of friendships with other women," explains Dr.
Josselson. "We push them right to the back burner. That's really a mistake
because women are such a source of strength to each other. We nurture one
another. And we need to have unpressured space in which we can do the
special kind of talk that women do when they're with other women. It's a
very healing experience."

Source: Taylor, S. E., Klein, L.C., Lewis, B. P., Gruenewald, T. L.,
Gurung, R. A. R., & Updegraff, J. A. (2000). "Female Responses to
Tend and Befriend, Not Fight or Flight" Psychological Review, 107(3),