According to scientists at Brigham and Women's Hospital, it could be that some forms of anxiety, especially those related to fear, may promote premature aging. The correlation appears to be especially strong for middle-aged women, the team adds.
Apparently, this state of mind contributes somehow to shortening telomeres, the protective caps at the end of chromosomes. These structures get shorter the more cells divide, until they eventually give their host cells the signal to self-destruct.
When the average length of telomeres in new cells decreases, aging occurs. Anxiety apparently promotes the shortening of these protective caps, the new study revealed. The work was conducted on 5,243 middle-aged women, PsychCentral
“So, this study is notable for showing a connection between a common form of psychological stress – phobic anxiety – and a plausible mechanism for premature aging. However, this type of study design cannot prove cause-and-effect or which problem came first,” the BWH team says.