Loneliness and unhappiness may impact biological aging more than smoking


Results from a recent study indicated that being in a vulnerable mental state accelerates aging more than smoking, highlighting the need for anti-aging therapies to focus on mental health as well as physical health.

The study was published in the journal, Aging-US, and conducted by an international team of researchers including scientists from the United States and China. The team set out to measure the effects of loneliness, restless sleep, and unhappiness on the pace of aging.

Accelerated aging refers to a sped-up process of the accumulation of molecular damage that comes with age and contributes to the development of age-related frailty and disease, according to the study.

The investigation involved a new aging clock which was trained and verified with the blood and biometric data of 11,914 Chinese adults. According to the study, accelerated aging was detected in participants with a history of stroke, liver and lung disease, smokers, and people in a vulnerable mental state. In fact, feeling helpless, lonely, and unhappy, were shown to increase the rate of biological aging more than smoking. Factors such as being single and living in a rural area were shown to accelerate aging as well.

According to the study’s authors, these results indicate the importance of mental health care in relation to healthy aging.

“Mental and psychosocial states are some of the most robust predictors of health outcomes and quality of life, yet they have largely been omitted from modern healthcare,” said Manuel Faria, study author and student at Stanford University.