As tough as it may be, getting over the things you fear may help you live longer, a new study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston suggests.
Middle-aged women who suffer from high levels of “phobic anxiety” — which includes common phobias like the fear of heights or crowds — have shorter telomeres (a genetic sign of aging) than those who have little phobic anxiety, the study shows. In a group of women ages 42 to 69, those who were highly phobic had telomere lengths similar to those of non-phobic women who were six years older, the researchers say.
Though the study did not prove cause-and-effect, study author Olivia Okereke, M.D., says the results indicate “a plausible mechanism for premature aging.”
The study appears online in the journal PLoS ONE.
(Photo © Swift Benjamin via Flickr)