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A healthy dose of truth can relieve stress, other ailments

Sep. 14, 2012 @ 12:27 AM

If you've ever tried to slide out of a tight spot with minor untruths or to avoid responsibility with outright lies like Jim Carrey in "Liar Liar," we've got some news for you: Fibs make you unreliable and corrupt your health.

During a two-and-a-half month study, folks who told less than three white lies a week (they were in the no-lies group!) were much less likely to complain about being tense or sad or to get sore throats and headaches than those in the frequent-fibbers group (average Americans, who tell around 10 white lies a week).

Being virtually fib-free reduces anxiety and cuts your output of the stress hormone cortisol -- and that reduces inflammation that harms blood vessels, the heart and cells throughout the body. Trying to be honest makes you like yourself and respect your friends more (and that makes all of your RealAges younger). Net result? You have more meaningful relationships, and your health hits new highs as you lower your blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and blood glucose.

Besides telling white lies and flat-out deceptions, lying also can be a way to keep secrets -- and that's not healthy either. Unburdening yourself boosts immunity, reduces depression and sharpens thinking. Another red zone for lying is in the doctor's office. A Cleveland Clinic study found 28 percent of patients lie to their docs, and that's risky business. When you're not giving your docs a real picture of your health and habits, you're not letting them help you get healthier. The truth? That's what we want to do!

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.

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