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Aging (Albany NY). 2019 Jul 18;11(14):4970-4989. doi: 10.18632/aging.102090.

Optimism is not associated with two indicators of DNA methylation aging.

Kim ES1,2,3, Fong K4, Lee L5,6, Spiro A7,8, Schwartz J9,10, Whitsel E11,12, Horvath S13,14, Wang C9, Hou L15, Baccarelli AA16, Li Y17,18,19, Stewart J20, Manson JE10,21, Grodstein F10,22, DeMeo DL21,22, Kubzansky LD1,2.

Author information

1
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
2
Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
3
Program on Integrative Knowledge and Human Flourishing, Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
4
School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.
5
VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA 02130, USA.
6
Department Psychiatry, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02118, USA.
7
Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center (MAVERIC), VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA 02130, USA.
8
Department of Epidemiology, Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA.
9
Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
10
Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
11
Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
12
Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
13
Department of Human Genetics, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
14
Department of Biostatistics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
15
Department of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.
16
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY 10032, USA.
17
Department of Genetics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
18
Department of Biostatistics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
19
Department of Computer Science University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
20
Cardiovascular Program, Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
21
Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
22
Channing Division of Network Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Abstract

Evidence indicates associations between higher optimism and reduced risk of age-related conditions and premature mortality. This suggests optimism is a positive health asset, but research identifying potential biological mechanisms underlying these associations remains limited. One potential pathway is slower cellular aging, which may delay age-related deterioration in health. Data were from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) (N=3,298) and the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study (NAS) (N=514), and included dispositional and explanatory style optimism measures. We evaluated whether higher optimism was associated with metrics suggestive of less cellular aging, as indicated by two DNA methylation algorithms, intrinsic (IEAA) and extrinsic epigenetic age acceleration (EEAA); these algorithms represent accelerated biologic aging that exceeds chronological age. We used linear regression models to test our hypothesis while considering several covariates (sociodemographics, depressive symptoms, health behaviors). In both cohorts, we found consistently null associations of all measures of optimism with both measures of DNA methylation aging, regardless of covariates considered. For example, in fully-adjusted models, dispositional optimism was not associated with either IEAA (WHI:β=0.02; 95% Confidence Interval [CI]:-0.15-0.20; NAS:β=-0.06; 95% CI:-0.56-0.44) or EEAA (WHI:β=-0.04; 95% CI: -0.26-0.17; NAS:β=-0.17; 95% CI: -0.80-0.46). Higher optimism was not associated with reduced cellular aging as measured in this study.

KEYWORDS:

DNA methylation; epigenetics; health psychology; healthy aging; optimism; psychological well-being

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