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Feeling depressed, unhappy and lonely is ageing us faster than smoking

According to research just published, feeling depressed, unhappy and lonely could speed up the ageing processes quicker than smoking or even certain diseases.

You may have heard references about your ‘biological age’ – which, rather than your actual age, is one that is influenced by factors such as genetics and lifestyle. Studies have previously suggested the higher the biological age, the higher the risk of various diseases, and the risk of death – and now researchers have gone a step further and created a digital model of the ageing process and the results are truly eye-opening.

Fedor Galkin, a co-author of the study and lead scientist at the Hong Kong startup Deep Longevity revealed: “Your body and soul are connected – this is our main message.”

The study, published in the Writing in the journal Aging-US, saw researchers at Deep Longevity, Stanford University, and The Chinese University of Hong Kong, report how they built an “ageing clock” based on data collected from 4,846 adults in 2015 as part of the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS). The study included 16 blood biomarkers, including cholesterol and glucose levels, participants’ sex and information such as their blood pressure and BMI.

The team found that those in the study who suffered from unhappiness, loneliness and struggled with their mental health saw an increase in their biological age.

“We demonstrate that psychological factors, such as feeling unhappy or being lonely, add up to 1.65 years to one’s biological age” Galkin writes.

While Galkin said the figure is an estimate, the study is an insight into the impact our mental wellbeing can have on our bodies and how it can be the driving force behind the ageing process.

“Taking care of your psychological health is the greatest contributor that you can have to slowing down your pace of ageing,” he said.

The study also reports that smokers are predicted to be 15 months older than their non-smoking peers and and being married seems to reduce biological age by around seven months.

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