A new study reveals that stress can accelerate the aging process by six years.

The research by Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that women who suffer from phobias such as the fear of heights had shorter telomeres than those with less stress. The telomeres are the outer part of the chromosome responsible for aging as it shortens.

The study data relied on blood samples from 5,000 women ages 48 to 69 as well as survey responses relating to fear and anxiety.

Researchers used the telomeres length between the sampled women to determine the six-year aging gap.

“This study is notable for showing a connection between a common form of psychological stress — phobic anxiety — and a plausible mechanism for premature aging," said study author Olivia Okereke.

Previous studies have supported the notion that long-term stress causes shorter telomeres.  However, researchers also found that short-term stress such as stage fright or nervousness before a job interview can actually boost your immunity as opposed to long-term stress. 

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