Washington: A common form of anxiety, known as phobic anxiety, was found to be associated with shorter telomeres in middle-aged and older women, suggesting a possible risk factor for accelerated aging.Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes at the ends of chromosomes. They protect chromosomes from deteriorating and guard the genetic information at the ends of chromosomes during cell division. Telomeres are considered markers of biological or cellular aging. Shortened telomeres have been linked to increased risk of cancers, heart disease, dementia and mortality.In this large, cross-sectional study, researchers at Brigham and Women``s Hospital (BWH) had obtained blood samples from 5,243 women, age 42 to 69 years, who were participants in the Nurses` Health Study.Using the samples, the researchers analysed telomere lengths, as well as the participants` concurrent self-reports regarding phobic symptoms on a validated questionnaire.Having a high phobic anxiety level was associated with significantly shorter telomere lengths. The difference in telomere lengths for women who were highly phobic vs. not was similar to what was seen for an additional six years of age.
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