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Research: Telling Lies Can Make You Physically Sick

MIAMI (CBS4) - As children we learn honesty is the best policy--but as adults--not everyone adheres to it.

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman," declared former President Bill Clinton.

"I know that it's not possible that this child could be mine," insisted former Presidential candidate John Edwards.

"I shall resign the presidency effective tomorrow," said President Richard Nixon in 1974.

Studies estimate Americans lie eleven times a week, on average.

"There are lot's of reasons people lie, personal gain, avoiding some untoward consequence, sometimes we lie to boost our self-esteem," said Psychiatrist Dr. Robin Kerner.

But whatever the reason, a new study--conducted by the University of Notre Dame suggests it's bad for your health.

"One group was specifically told to try not to lie and the other, the control group, was not given any such instructions," said Dr. Kerner.

Researchers say the group of participants who reduced lying for ten weeks--experienced significantly fewer headaches--sore throats--tenseness--anxiety--and other health problems--than those who continued to lie regularly.

"I think anything that is going to affect our stress, affects our health," Kerner declared.
Kerner says it makes perfect sense because lying is stressful. "If I'm telling lies, especially major lies, that's going to create a lot of internal stress which can manifest itself in a whole host of medical problems."

But it's not just major lies that can make you sick.

"Sometimes we do this to help other people, 'Gee, I love your hair cut,' when I don't like it very much," said Kerner.

Researchers found even little white lies--like exaggerations--and making false excuses--can be harmful to your health.

"I don't know, I'll have to see if it impacts my life, they say you know what happened to her, she told too many lies," one woman told us.

While some people say they don't see the harm in telling little white lies--especially if it makes friends and family feel better--others say lying--big or small--just isn't worth it.

Dr. Kerner said it's important to get to the root of why you're lying--which can help you curb it. "For some people lying can become a sort of a coping strategy. So instead of dealing with the problem, they create this world of lies."

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