A new study conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston has found that high levels of anxiety could be one of the factors in making you age faster.
Researchers used data from the Nurse's Health Study and analyzed more than 5,200 women between 42 to 69 years of age. The researchers recorded the participants' responses to questions, such as whether they are afraid of enclosed spaces or crowds, and calculated their levels of anxiety.
The researchers found that those who had high levels of anxiety had shorter telomeres, which are the end coverings of chromosomes and protect the genetic material from being damaged. The researchers said that the difference between telomere lengths between those who scored high on anxiety levels and those who did not have any phobia was almost six years.
"Many people wonder about whether and how stress can make us age faster. 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", lead researcher Olivia Okereke said. The study has been published in the journal PLoS ONE.