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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2018 Mar 2;73(3):409-412. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbw035.

Survival Advantage Mechanism: Inflammation as a Mediator of Positive Self-Perceptions of Aging on Longevity.

Author information

Social and Behavioral Sciences Division, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT.


Objective :

Previous studies have found that positive self-perceptions of aging (SPA) are associated with longer survival; however, a biological mechanism was unknown. We examined whether C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of cumulative stress-related inflammation, mediates the relationship between SPA and survival.

Method :

The SPA of participants aged 50 and older in the Health and Retirement Study (N = 4,149) were assessed at baseline. Inflammation was measured by the level of CRP 4 years later. Survival was followed for up to 6 years.

Results :

As hypothesized, CRP mediated the impact of SPA on survival. Following the steps of a mediation analysis, positive SPA at baseline predicted lower CRP after 4 years (β = -.29, p = .03) and longer survival in the 2 years following the CRP measurement (β = .20, p =.003); additionally, lower CRP predicted longer survival, after adjusting for positive SPA (β = -.02, p = .0001). All models adjusted for baseline age, CRP, health, sex, race, and education.

Discussion :

It was found that lower CRP partially mediates the relationship between positive SPA and longer survival. Hence, this study presents a novel pathway to explain the process by which positive SPA extend longevity.


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