Worrying About Ageing 'Takes Years Off Your Life'
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WORRYING ABOUT AGEING 'TAKES YEARS OFF YOUR LIFE'
Monday, July 29, 2002
Worrying about getting old may be taking years off your life, researchers
A team of American psychologists found that people who are positive about
ageing live an average 7.5 years longer than those who regret the passing
Part of the reason is thought to be that feeling negative about growing old
saps a person's will to live.
The effect on lifespan is greater than physical factors such as blood
pressure, body weight, smoking and exercise.
Dr Becca Levy, from Yale University, in Connecticut, and colleagues wrote in
the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: "The effect of more
positive self-perceptions of ageing on survival is greater than the
physiological measures of low systolic (during the heart beat) blood
pressure and cholesterol, each of which is associated with a longer lifespan
of four years or less.
"It is also greater than the independent contributions of lower body mass
index (a measure that relates weight and height), no history of smoking and
a tendency to exercise."
The researchers used information from 660 volunteers aged 50 and older who
had taken part in an investigation called the Ohio Longitudinal Study of
Ageing and Retirement (Olsar).
Death rates among the participants were compared with their responses to a
survey conducted 23 years earlier.
Dr Levy's team found that the will to live partially accounted for the link
between positive self-perceptions of ageing and survival, but could not
explain it entirely. Another likely factor was thought to be the effect of
stress on the heart.
Earlier research had shown that the hearts and arteries of elderly people
exposed to negative ageing stereotypes did not respond well to stress.
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