For young women seeking longevity and youth, a little patience may help you live longer, a new study suggests. Researchers from National University of Singapore (NUS) have found that young impatient Chinese women exhibit signs of more rapid ageing at the cellular level.
They found that the cells of impatient young women are ageing faster than their more patient peers, as characterised by shorter leukocyte telomeres.
This novel study is the first to link a fundamental determinant of decision making such as impatience to a molecular marker for cellular ageing in humans.
Researchers worked with a sample of 1,158 healthy Chinese undergraduates. To determine the participants’ extent of impatience, researchers employed a behavioural economic game known as ‘delay discounting.’
They asked participants to decide between receiving 100 dollars the next day, or larger rewards later. Participants who opted for earlier gratification were deemed as more impatient.
Researchers measured the length of the participants’ leukocyte telomeres - the caps at the end of each DNA strand which protect the chromosome.
Telomeres decrease in length each time a cell divides and ages, and once they reach a critical short length, the cell will no longer divide.
Researchers discovered that females who were identified as impatient had shorter telomere length. Existing research suggests that telomere length could be an initial predictor of disease and earlier mortality. Older cells, and older people, generally have shorter telomeres, researchers said.
No similar significant correlations were observed in the male participants. The findings were robust after controlling for health-related variables, risk appetite (or inclination for risk) and lifestyle behaviours.
“Patience is indeed a virtue and women with impatient personality types are likely growing older at a faster pace than women disposed to be more patient,” said Richard Ebstein from NUS.
The study is the first to link a fundamental determinant of decision making such as impatience to a molecular marker for cellular ageing in humans. The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.