A recent study finds that women suffering from high levels of anxiety are more likely to age faster than those who are calm. The study, carried out by researchers at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said there was a relation between phobic anxiety, an unreasonable fear of certain conditions including crowds, heights or the outside world, and shorter telomeres in middle aged and older women. Telomeres are the structures that sit at the end of the chromosomes protecting them from degeneration and damage. They are regarded as markers of biological or cellular aging. Shorter telomeres are linked to higher risk of cancers, heart disease, dementia and mortality.
The researchers took blood samples from over 5,200 women between 42 to 69 years of age. The women were then asked to fill out a form about any phobic symptoms that they suffered. The researchers then found a link between having a high phobic anxiety and shorter telomeres.The difference in length of telomeres between women with phobic anxiety and those who were not was similar to what was estimated for an additional six years of age. "Many people wonder about whether -- and how -- stress can make us age faster," said lead researcher Dr Olivia Okereke, adding, “This study is notable for showing a connection between a common form of psychological stress - phobic anxiety -- and a plausible mechanism for premature ageing." The researchers, however, added that the result only showed an association, a cause-effect link, and that it was possible that people who have shorter telomeres are generally prone to facing more stress. SAB/GHN