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Positive psychological changes from meditation training linked to cellular health
Date:11/3/2010

Positive psychological changes that occur during meditation training are associated with greater telomerase activity, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the University of California, San Francisco. The study is the first to link positive well-being to higher telomerase, an enzyme important for the long-term health of cells in the body.

The effect appears to be attributable to psychological changes that increase a person's ability to cope with stress and maintain feelings of well-being.

"We have found that meditation promotes positive psychological changes, and that meditators showing the greatest improvement on various psychological measures had the highest levels of telomerase," said Clifford Saron, associate research scientist at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain.

"The take-home message from this work is not that meditation directly increases telomerase activity and therefore a person's health and longevity," Saron said. "Rather, meditation may improve a person's psychological well-being and in turn these changes are related to telomerase activity in immune cells, which has the potential to promote longevity in those cells. Activities that increase a person's sense of well-being may have a profound effect on the most fundamental aspects of their physiology."

The study, with UC Davis postdoctoral scholar Tonya Jacobs as lead author, was published online Oct. 29 in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology and will soon appear in print. It is a product of the UC Davis-based Shamatha Project, led by Saron, one of the first long-term, detailed, matched control-group studies of the effects of intensive meditation training on mind and body.

"This work is among the first to show a relation between positive psychological change and telomerase activity. Because the finding is new, it should serve to inspire future studies to replicate and extend what we found," Jacobs said.


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Contact: Andy Fell
ahfell@ucdavis.edu
530-752-4533
University of California - Davis
Source:Eurekalert

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