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Psychol Health. 2020 Jan 5:1-15. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2019.1707827. [Epub ahead of print]

Meditation and telomere length: a meta-analysis.

Author information

1
Psychology, University of New England, Armidale, Australia.
2
Division of Social Sciences, Yale-NUS College, Singapore.

Abstract

Objective: Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes. Short telomeres are a biomarker for worsening health and early death.Design: The present study consolidated research on meditation and telomere length through a meta-analysis of results of studies examining the effect of meditation on telomere length by comparing the telomere length of meditating participants with participants in control conditions.Results: A search of the literature identified 11 studies reporting 12 comparisons of meditating individuals with individuals in control conditions. An overall significant weighted effect size of g =.40 indicated that the individuals in meditation conditions had longer telomeres. When an outlier effect size was trimmed from the analysis, the effect size was smaller, g =.16. Across studies, a greater number of hours of meditation among participants in meditation conditions was associated with larger effect sizes.Conclusion: These findings provide tentative support for the hypothesis that participants in meditation conditions have longer telomeres than participants in comparison conditions, and that a greater number of hours of meditation is associated with a greater impact on telomere biology. The results of the meta-analysis have potential clinical significance in that they suggest that meditation-based interventions may prevent telomere attrition or increase telomere length.

KEYWORDS:

Meditation; meta-analysis; mindfulness; telomere

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