Your genes could increase your chance of dying from stress, Duke professor says

DURHAM, N.C. -- One of your genes could increase your chance of dying behind the wheel, according to Duke Professor Dr. Redford Williams.

Traffic backups can make anyone want to scream, but that screaming doesn't happen, and it may make you sick.

Williams said stress could be deadly and his studies have found that some of us are more likely to die than others from that stress.

"Some of us are more sensitive to stress in terms as to what it does to our body," Williams said. "Very often it's related to our genetic make-up and the bad news is, the physiological over-reactivity that some of us have as a result of this can lead to increased risk of heart disease, cancer too for that matter."

Studies show some people carry a gene that makes their blood pressure increase higher than others when they get stressed.

Currently, there's no simple test to confirm if you have that gene. So Williams said everybody needs to stop, take a deep breath and relax.

"That's why you have to ask these I Am Worth It Questions. Is this important? Is what I'm thinking and feeling appropriate to the facts? Is the situation modifiable, and if so, is it worth it for me to take the actions necessary to modify it?" Williams said.

Williams said relaxing and taking the time to ask yourself those questions can take time and practice. Don't expect overnight success.
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