ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Soccer's a Winner for Building Bone Health in Girls
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
Get in Step With Summer Foot Care
CANCER
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
CAREGIVING
Study of Everest Climbers Questions Oxygen Use
Few Hospitals Embracing Electronic Health Record Systems
When the Caregiver Becomes the Patient
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Holistic Dentistry-My View
DIABETES
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
DIET, NUTRITION
5 Reasons why you could gain weight while dieting
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Climate Change Linked to Longer Pollen Seasons
What's Cookin'? It Could Be Air Pollution
Chemicals in Carpets, Non-Stick Pans Tied to Thyroid Disease
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
Kids' Eye Injuries From Golf Clubs Rare But Severe
Decorative Halloween Eye Lenses May Pose Serious Risks
FITNESS
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
Almost Two-Thirds of Americans Meet Exercise Guidelines
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Simple Holistic Approach to Fight the Common Cold
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Want Sun Protection? Wear Red or Blue
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
Soy Protein Doesn't Lower Cholesterol
Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
St. John's Wort Doesn't Work for ADHD
Eating Fish, Breast-Feeding Boost Infant Development
Help Your Kids Stay Active
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Meditation May Boost College Students' Learning
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
SENIORS
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Any Old Cane Won't Do
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
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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.