The authors claim in their new book, The Telomere Effect, that negative thoughts harm your health at the DNAlevel. Research has shown that a person’s “social relationships, environments and lifestyles” affect their genes. “Even though you are born with a particular set of genes, the way you live can influence how they express themselves.”
Blackburn and Epel say components of DNA called telomeres determine how fast your cells age. Short telomeres are one of the major reasons human cells grow old, but lab tests have shown that they can also grow longer. In other words, ageing “could possibly be accelerated or slowed -and, in some aspects, even reversed.”
The shopper above is an example of `cynical hostility’. “People who score high on measures of cynical hostility tend to get more cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease and often die at younger ages. They also have shorter telomeres.”
Pessimism shortens telomeres too.”When pessimists develop an ageing-related illness, like cancer or heart disease, the illness tends to progress faster… They tend to die earlier,” warn the authors.
Ruminating over a bad situation is also destructive. “Rumination never leads to a solution, only to more ruminating… When you ruminate, stress sticks around in the body long after the reason for the stress is over.” The resulting depression and anxiety only make your telomeres shorter.