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Feel Young, Live Long: Perceived Age Can Affect Longevity

Dec 29, 2015 04:22PM

Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found people that feel younger than their years have a lower incidence of earlier mortality. Conducted by scientists from the UK’s University College London, the research analyzed data from 6,489 people and measured their self-perceived age with the question, “How old do you feel you are?” Then, over more than eight years, the scientists tracked the number of deaths from all causes.

Almost 70 percent of those that averaged a little over 65 reported feeling at least three years younger than their chronological age. Only a quarter said they felt close to their age and about 5 percent said they felt more than a year older.

The research found that deaths among those that felt younger were 14 percent, while more than 18 percent of those who felt their own age and more than 24 percent of people that felt older died during the follow-up period. The research further found that individuals that felt at least three years younger were less likely to die later from heart disease or cancer. These relationships prevailed even when other health and lifestyle factors were eliminated.

Co-author Andrew Steptoe, Ph.D., says, “We expected to find an association between self-perceived age and mortality. We didn’t expect that the relationship would still be present even when wealth, other socio-demographic indicators, health, depression, mobility and other factors were taken into account.”

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