If a new study is to be believed, a hormone called DHEAS makes you live longer – but only if you are wealthy enough.
In the meantime, leading a more fulfilling life could have a similar effect, says Professor Sir Michael Marmot, who led the research.
Higher levels of this hormone, secreted by the adrenal glands, are associated with both greater amounts of exercise and an active life with lots of interests, friends and family – all of which tend to come with wealth.
The rate of production of the hormone is greatest in childhood and teenage years, before gradually declining through adult life.
Having more DHEAS in the body is linked to a better memory and ability to cope with mental tasks, particularly in men.
Along with another insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), DHEAS helps control reactions to stress and regulate various body processes including digestion, the immune system, mood and energy usage.
Although its too soon to say if the hormone production is directly linked to wealth, Marmot believes the benefits of wealth, which include a better diet, greater control over life, less stress, more travel and involvement in the wider world through hobbies, sport or other interests will encourage the body to create DHEAS.
“We found a clear social gradient in several health indicators with less wealthy people having higher levels of obesity, lower levels of physical exercise, higher levels of smoking, lower fruit and vegetable intake and being more likely to suffer from hypertension and diabetes,” The Daily Mail quoted Marmot as saying.
The study was carried out by University College London for the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.