ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Spot light on Dani Antman New Lionheart teacher
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
For All Their Plusses, Pets Pose a Risk for Falls, Too
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
CANCER
Gene Studies Reveal Cancer's Secrets
Smokeout '08: The Perfect Time to Quit
U.S. Reported 25,000 Cases of HPV-Related Cancers Annually
CAREGIVING
Bariatric Surgery Centers Don't Deliver Better Outcomes
Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs
For Dialysis Patients, More Pills = Lower Quality of Life
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
DIABETES
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
DIET, NUTRITION
Quick Weight Loss May Be Best for Long-Term Success
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Functional Foods Uncovered
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Population-Based Strategy Urged to Cut U.S. Obesity Rate
Cats Can Trigger Eczema in Some Infants
Smog Tougher on the Obese
EYE CARE, VISION
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
When Gauging Age, the Eyes Have It
FITNESS
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Keep Fire Safety in Mind as You Celebrate
Can a Bad Boss Make You Sick?
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Alzheimer's Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Fussy Babys Could Be Out Of Your Control
St. John's Wort Doesn't Work for ADHD
School Meals Need to Get Healthier
MEN'S HEALTH
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Countdown to Hair Loss
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Breast-Fed Baby May Mean Better Behaved Child
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
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Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer

TUESDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- If you have a purpose in life -- lofty or not -- you'll live longer, a new study shows.

It doesn't seem to matter much what the purpose is, or whether the purpose involves a goal that's ambitious or modest.

"It can be anything -- from wanting to accomplish a goal in life, to achieving something in a volunteer organization, to as little as reading a series of books," said study author Dr. Patricia Boyle, a neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center and an assistant professor of behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

"We found that people who reported a greater level of purpose in life were substantially less likely to die over the follow-up period -- only about half as likely to die over the follow-up period -- as compared to people with a lower level of purpose," Boyle said. The follow-up period averaged nearly three years.

Boyle and her colleagues studied 1,238 older adults already participating in two ongoing research studies at Rush, the Rush Memory and Aging Project and the Minority Aging Research Study. The participants were all dementia-free when the study began and averaged 78 years old.

At the start of the study, the participants answered questions about their purpose in life, rating themselves on different areas meant to measure the tendency to derive meaning from life and to feel that one is working toward goals.

The average score on the sense-of-purpose evaluation was 3.7 of a possible 5, Boyle said.

When comparing scores, Boyle found that those with a higher sense of purpose had about half the risk of dying during the follow-up period as did those with a lower sense of purpose. And that was true, she said, even after controlling for such factors as depressive symptoms, chronic medical conditions and disability.

"What this is saying is, if you find purpose in life, if you find your life is meaningful and if you have goal-directed behavior, you are likely to live longer," she said.

Though much other research has found that having a purpose in life is crucial to maintaining psychological wellness and can be important for physical health as well, Boyle said she believes the new study is one of the first large-scale investigations to examine the link between life purpose and longevity.

The finding follows another recent study, done by others, in which the researchers found that retirees older than 65 who volunteered had less than half the risk of dying during about a four-year follow-up period as did their peers who did not volunteer their time.

What's the link? Boyle can't say for sure. But it could be that having a greater sense of purpose helps multiple systems of the body function better, conferring protection in the face of illness.

The findings make sense to Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. He said he often sees the effects of not having a purpose among older patients. "I see a number of people who have lost that purpose," he said. "Their health declines."

Still, he said, ''it's not clear there is cause and effect" between a sense of purpose and longevity. Perhaps the longevity could be explained by another variable the researchers did not examine, he said.

Boyle said that in future research they hope to find out if people can be inspired to have purpose in life, perhaps by being taught to set goals and work toward them.

SOURCES: Patricia Boyle, Ph.D., neuropsychologist, Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, and assistant professor, behavioral sciences, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago; Gary Kennedy, M.D., professor, psychiatry and behavioral science, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and director, geriatric psychiatry, Montefiore Medical Center, New York City; June 15, 2009, Psychosomatic Medicine.