A Purposeful Life: The Secret to Slower Biological Aging?
The journey to longevity may be less about the ticking of the clock and more about the purpose in our hearts. Epigenetic aging, a process that involves changes to the activity of our DNA over time, has been linked to various psychosocial risk factors. However, it appears that having a high sense of purpose in life might actually slow down this process.
In a group of older adults, researchers found that those with a high sense of purpose showed reduced epigenetic age acceleration. This was measured using 13 DNA methylation "epigenetic clocks". DNA methylation is a biological process by which methyl groups are added to the DNA molecule, which can change the activity of a DNA segment without changing its sequence. It's like a clock that's ticking inside every cell in your body, and it can speed up or slow down depending on various factors.
Interestingly, the association between purpose in life and reduced epigenetic age acceleration was found to be independent of demographic and psychosocial factors. However, it was somewhat reduced after adjusting for health-related behaviors like drinking, smoking, physical activity, and body mass index (BMI). This suggests that having a purpose in life might lead to healthier behaviors, which in turn could slow down the biological aging process.