Few would deny that sex is a pretty good thing. But not only is it good for, er, the obvious reasons – it might also be keeping us feeling younger and healthier.
Scientists in California found that sexual intimacy is associated with longer telomeres, which are the protective caps on our DNA that shorten with age.
The researchers asked 129 women, who were all in relationships, about their sexual activity over the course of one week, and examined their blood. "Significantly" longer telomeres were found in women who reported having weekly sexual intimacy, the study states.
Lead researcher Tomás Cabeza de Baca, of the University of California, calls telomeres “a biological index of systemic ageing and health”. They protect our chromosomes from fraying, and “maintain the integrity of DNA,” he told PsyPost.
Although normal life-course processes, such as ageing and cellular replication, shorten telomeres, sustained psychosocial stress accelerates this process. Over time, shortened telomeres may contribute to chronic degenerative diseases and premature mortality.
Previous research has linked shorter telomeres with increased risk of disease, and argued it can be controlled to some extent by a healthy diet and exercise.
So, there's a chat-up line if you ever need one.