Deadly Consequences of the “Pinocchio Syndrome”
“No, that color looks great on you…really!”
“Of course! You’re more than welcome to stay an extra two days!”
Oh, the little white lie. We are all guilty of telling one from time to time. And then there is the occasional whopper that escapes as well. Somehow, we seem to rationalize them as being the lesser of two evils. Hurt someone’s feelings or exaggerate/ dance around the truth? Depending on the circumstances, many of us would take the less painful route.
Yet, lying has emotional and moral consequences – as most of us would agree. But what we’re in the dark about is that lying has physical consequences as well. Consequences that could very affect your overall health.
Take a lesson from Pinocchio…
The moral of his story can be summed up with the following:
Never tell a lie and there are consequences to everything you do.
It seems that when it comes to denying the truth, there’s much more than your reputation at stake. Lying can also slice away at your longevity. Research has shown increased cancer risk, gastric and cardiac disease, anxiety, addictions, obesity, and poor relationships are linked to lying.
How can this be?
In a nutshell, lying causes stress. When we are unable to deal with reality we are hiding or pushing back deep-seated emotions so we don’t have to deal with them. Obviously, over time this can be a very stressful way to live.
Anytime your body feels stressed it releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol suppresses the immune system. What happens is immune cells are unable to activate telomerase - an enzyme that keeps cells young by protecting telomeres, structures on our DNA responsible for aging.
Telomeres shorten every time a cell divides. As telomeres decrease in length a wide range of human conditions and diseases arise. These include osteoporosis, heart disease and aging, just to name a few. Basically, the more cortisol you have, the shorter your telomeres.
When stress hormones stay in the bloodstream for too long the immune system is worn down. Research has shown that people with cancer are understandably suffering from stress and chronic depression. What's interesting is that many cancer patients have a type C personality. This means they have a natural tendency to depress their emotions. Emotional stress eventually shows its self in the way of physical disease.
The bottom line is even little white lies are dangerous to our health. Of course, if we would just stop lying or try to manage life's difficulties without resorting to deception, that would go a long way towards decreasing the ravages of cortisol.
If only Pinocchio had known . . .