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Personality Could Affect Longevity, Study Says

New research by the Boston University School of Medicine finds that your personality could be a factor in how long you live.

The New England Centenarian Study is an ongoing nationwide look at why some people live to 100 and beyond. Its researchers gave personality tests to about 250 children of centenarians, and study director Tom Perls says both male and female offspring scored high for being extroverted, and low for being neurotic or emotionally distressed.

"They don't dwell on things. They don't internalize things that would be stressful," Perls says. "They seem to be uncanny in their ability to let go of stress. And they tend to be able to establish friendships better, to establish social networks that might support them better."

Perls says those traits seem to help people live longer. And he says the findings reinforce the theory that stress can harm our physical health.

The findings appear online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

This program aired on April 7, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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