Habit of giving key to longevity

Washington, Feb 5 (IANS) If you want good health and longevity, then make a habit of giving, says a study.

The study has been borne out by a five-year study by three universities.

Principal study investigator Michael J. Poulin, from the University of Buffalo, said: "This study offers a significant contribution... specifically to our understanding of how giving assistance to others may offer health benefits to the giver by buffering the negative effects of stress."

Poulin, assistant professor of psychology at Buffalo, along with colleagues at Stony Brook University and Grand Valley State University, conducted the study, involving 846 subjects, the American Journal of Public Health reports.

They point out that although it is established that social isolation and stress are significant predictors of mortality and morbidity, 20 years of studies and meta-analytical review have failed to establish that receiving social support from others buffers recipients against mortality after exposure to psychosocial stress.

"We tested the hypothesis that providing help to others would predict a reduced association between stress and mortality for the helpers," Poulin said, according to a Buffalo statement.

"Specifically, over the five years of the study, we found that when dealing with stressful situations, those who had helped others during the previous year were less likely to die than those who had not helped others," he said.

Self-reported stressful experiences included such things as serious, non-life-threatening illness, burglary, job loss, financial difficulties or death of a family member.

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