UCLA research reveals connection between state of mind and health

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DNA seen under electron microscope (AP Photo)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Happiness is a two-way street.

UCLA researchers say your state of mind can affect your genes — that having a positive state of mind just might embolden your genetic code against harmful mutations.

People who have high levels of eudaimonic well-being — the kind that comes from having a deep sense of purpose — showed favorable gene expression profiles in their immune cells, according to UCLA researchers at the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology and partners at the University of North Carolina.

Study subjects also had low levels of inflammatory gene expression and strong expression of antiviral and antibody genes.

But people with high levels of hedonic well-being — the happiness that comes from consummatory self-gratification — showed the opposite.

“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 UCLA professor Steven Cole, the author of the research findings. “Apparently, the human genome is much more sensitive to different ways of achieving happiness than are conscious minds.”

The report is published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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