We’ve always known that anxiety takes a toll on the human body. Anxious people are more likely to suffer from heart disease and other diseases, for example.
To date, however, we haven’t been too sure about anxiety’s effects on aging.
Interestingly enough, a new study shows anxiety shortens telomeres, the end caps of DNA. The results were published online in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
Anxiety is Associated With 3.5 to 8 years of Cellular Aging
Previous studies show a relationship between shorter telomeres and a shorter lifespan, making it a reliable marker for aging. Telomeres shorten in response to aging, smoking, excessive drinking, and unhealthy lifestyles.
In the study, scientists recruited 1,283 people with anxiety, 459 people with former-anxiety, and 582 people with no history of anxiety. Aging was assessed by measuring the length of telomeres found in white blood cells.
According to the results, people with current anxiety had significantly shorter telomeres than those without anxiety or those with a past history of the condition. Individuals who were overweight, underweight, smoked, or drank heavily had shorter telomeres.