In the August 15th issue of the Journal of Biological Psychiatry, Gregory Miller, PhD, and his colleagues released the results of a preliminary study in which they found that stress impacts the body at the genetic level. While studies around stress have previously focused on levels of cortisol— frequently referred to in Pop-psychology parlance as the "stress hormone"— and the impact of stress on those levels' patterns, Miller and his colleagues found in their subjects that it is the body's ability to receive the signal from this hormone, even as it exists in some stressed subjects at normal levels, that is altered under stressful conditions. Miller's team noted the differences in patterns of gene expression in the blood's monocytes-- white blood cells impacting physical immune response-- between subjects serving as caretakers for family members battling cancer and a comparable group of subjects not coping with an enduring stressor of this kind. The genetic patterns in the caregivers' monocytes impaired their bodies' responses to cortisol's anti-inflammatory properties. The caregivers' "chronic pro-inflammatory state… could contribute to the risk for a number of medical illnesses, such as depression, heart disease, and diabetes."