[Paleopsych] BH: Happiness Is Good Biological Functioning
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Mon May 2 16:20:37 UTC 2005
Happiness Is Good Biological Functioning
4/18/2005 4:04 PM
Credit: Wolfgang Lienbacher
Healthy smile: Happier people are healthier people, suggests a new
Happiness, apparently, is good biological functioning.
So suggests a study by researchers from University College London,
who found that happier people have several markers of a healthy body,
such as those relating to the cardiovascular system and those
controlling hormone levels.
"It has been suggested that positive affective states are protective,
but the pathways through which such effects might be mediated are
poorly understood," the researchers say. "Here we show that positive
affect in middle-aged men and women is associated with reduced
neuroendocrine, inflammatory, and cardiovascular activity."
In 200 middle-aged Londoners, Andrew Steptoe and colleagues found
that participants who reported more everyday happiness had better
biological function in a few key systems.
Happier people, for example, had lower levels of the stress hormone
cortisol, which has been linked to such conditions as type 2
diabetes and hypertension.
They also had lower responses to stress in plasma fibrinogen
levels. In high concentrations, fibrinogen can indicate a risk of
coronary heart disease.
Happy men also had lower heart rates over the day and evening,
suggesting that they had good cardiovascular health.
Steptoe and colleagues found that their results were independent of
psychological distress, implying that good well-being is directly
linked to health-related biological processes.
The research is reported in the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences (read abstract).
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