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A study published in peer reviewed journal, Psychoneuroendocrinology, in March found that women who have regular sex have longer telomeres – the caps on chromosomes that protect the integrity of the DNA.
That’s a good thing. As you age, your telomeres shorten, and the shorter they are, the more likely you are to develop a degenerative disease and die prematurely.
The study analysed 129 women, and found that those who had sex at least once a week were likely to have longer telomeres.
This relationship held up even when the researchers took other factors into account, such as stress and the quality of a relationship, which suggests that there’s a strong connection between an active sex life and longer telomeres.
Longer telomeres could point to longer life, a slowing down of the ageing process, and a reduced risk of degenerative disease. Which all sounds splendid.
But before you get too excited, it’s important to note that the study was pretty small, and that there could be a whole host of other factors coming into play.
Researchers only gathered data on 129 mothers in committed relationships, so there’s currently no evidence of the ‘sex = longer life’ connection for single women having regular sex or women who haven’t had children.
The researchers note that the findings are ‘largely exploratory,’ and state that they can only generalise them to partnered mothers in long-term relationships.
It’s also possible that there’s a ‘self-selection bias’, meaning healthy women with longer telomere length may be more likely to have regular sex, rather than the opposite cause-and-effect relationship.
Basically, a lot more research needs to be done before we can sack medical treatment and bang our way to better health.
But in the meantime, having sex won’t do much harm. Go for it, if you fancy it.