The healthier your lifestyle, the better your Natural Killer Cells function
The Natural Killer Cells are the body's first line of defense against infectious diseases and cancer. How well that defense line functions depends, among other things, on your lifestyle. Japanese researchers, affiliated with Osaka University School, published a human study in 1992 that makes clear how strongly lifestyle and immunity are interrelated.
Using questionnaires, the researchers globally mapped the lifestyle of 62 men aged 30-60 years. The criteria can be found below. At the same time, the researchers extracted Natural Killer Cells from the blood of the participants, and then determined in test tubes how well those Natural Killer Cells were able to clear up cancer cells.
None of the individual lifestyle factor had a noticeably strong effect on the activity of the Natural Killer Cells, but the trend was clear. The healthier you live, the more cancer cells (and germs) your Natural Killer Cells will kill.
E/T Ratio = the ratio between the number of Natural Killer Cells [E] and the cancer cells [T] in the test tubes.
The strongest positive lifestyle factors were exercise, the absence of psychological stress and sufficient sleep. Then came proper nutrition and non-smoking.
All factors together had a significant effect on the amount of cancer cells the Natural Killer Cells cleaned out. It did not matter what the T/E-ratio was.
Click on the figure below for a larger version.
The researchers also looked at the effect of lifestyle on the number of Natural Killer Cells. There was a tendency that, as the study participants lived healthier, they also had more Natural Killer Cells in their system.
"In conclusion, good reported health practices were correlated with higher Natural Killer cell activity", the researchers summarize. "Individuals reporting poor health practices and unhealthful lifestyle practices should be advised to change their habits to decrease their risk of developing tumors, which may be associated with decreased Natural Killer cell activity."
Prev Med. 1992 Sep;21(5):602-15.
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