Staying happy affects your genes

A study, first-of-its-kind has found that happiness can affect your genes in a healthy or unhealthy way depending on the reason of your pleasure.

US researchers have found that human bodies sense at the molecular level that not all happiness is equal and respond in ways that can help or suppress physical health.

People with high levels of eudaimonic well-being showed quite favourable gene-expression profiles in their immune system.

They possessed low levels of inflammatory gene expression and strong expression of antiviral and antibody genes.

People with relatively high levels of hedonic well-being actually showed just the opposite.

In fact they showed an adverse expression profile involving high inflammation and low antiviral and antibody gene expression.

Steven Cole, a University of California, Los Angeles professor of medicine, and his colleagues, including first author Barbara L. Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina, examined how the human genome responds to stress, misery, fear negative psychology.

All the previous studies found that circulating immune cells show a systematic shift in baseline gene-expression profiles during extended periods of stress, threat or uncertainty.

In this present study the researchers drew blood samples from 80 healthy adults who were assessed for hedonic and eudaimonic well-being.

The team made use of the CTRA gene-expression profile to map the potentially distinct biological effects of hedonic and eudaimonic well-being.

“What this study tells us is that doing good and feeling good have very different effects on the human genome, even though they generate similar levels of positive emotion,” said Dr. Cole.
“Apparently, the human genome is much more sensitive to different ways of achieving happiness than are conscious minds,” he added.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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