ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Insight on Herbals Eludes Doctors, Patients Alike
Pain-Relieving Powers of Acupuncture Unclear
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Many Americans Fall Short on Their Vitamin D
Studies Struggle to Gauge Glucosamine's Worth
CANCER
Get to Know the Pap Test
Omega-3 May Safely Treat Precancerous Bowel Polyps
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
CAREGIVING
Robots May Come to Aging Boomers' Rescue
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
Depression, PTSD Common Among Lung Transplant Patient Caregivers
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Health Tip: After Liposuction
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
DIABETES
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
DIET, NUTRITION
Coffee Drinkers Might Live Longer
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Quick Weight Loss May Be Best for Long-Term Success
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
Smog Standards Need Tightening, Activists Say
Gene Explains How High-Fructose Diets Lead to Insulin Resistance
EYE CARE, VISION
Decorative Halloween Eye Lenses May Pose Serious Risks
'Blind' Man Navigates Obstacle Course Without Error
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
FITNESS
Football Can Shrink Players
When It Comes to Lifting, the Pros Have Your Back
Run for Your Life
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Vitamin D and Bone Health: Are You Getting Enough of This Important Vitamin?
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Music May Temper Pain in Preemies
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
MEN'S HEALTH
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
SENIORS
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
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.