Patience isn’t just a virtue; it may also be a life-saver. That’s the key conclusion of new research that finds people who are impatient may die earlier in life than those who aren’t.
The findings, by a team of researchers from the U.S. and Singapore, found that young women who scored as more impatient on a common psychology test tended to have shorter “telomeres” — tiny caps on the ends of chromosomes linked to longevity — than their more patient counterparts.
In a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team explained that telomeres protect the chromosomes from damage — as cells divide, telomere length shortens — and scientists believe this is one of the main reasons we age.
As telomeres grow shorter, starting at around age 16, we grow older — until eventually the cells can no longer divide and we die.
In this new study, the researchers report that they have found impatience may cause biological changes that lead to telomere shortening, which may in turn cause people to age faster and die sooner, Medical Xpress
The study involved 1,158 Chinese undergraduate students asked to participate in a common psychology experiment that involves giving participants a certain amount of money now, or more money at a later date. The experiment has been used as a means for measuring the degree of patience a person has.
After the psychology test, all of the students provided blood samples that allowed researchers to measure the length of their telomeres.
The results showed female students who scored as impatient in the psychology test were found to have on average shorter telomere length, but there was no such connection with male students.
“The current results contribute to understanding the relationship between preferences in decision making, particularly impatience, and cellular aging, for the first time to our knowledge,” the researchers concluded.
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