Meditation and telomere length: a meta-analysis.
Psychol Health. 2020 Jan 5:1-15. Epub 2020 Jan 5. PMID: 31903785
Nicola S Schutte
Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes. Short telomeres are a biomarker for worsening health and early death.The present study consolidated research on meditation and telomere length through a meta-analysis of results of studies examining the effect of meditation on telomere length by comparing the telomere length of meditating participants with participants in control conditions.A search of the literature identified 11 studies reporting 12 comparisons of meditating individuals with individuals in control conditions. An overall significant weighted effect size of=.40 indicated that the individuals in meditation conditions had longer telomeres. When an outlier effect size was trimmed from the analysis, the effect size was smaller,=.16. Across studies, a greater number of hours of meditation among participants in meditation conditions was associated with larger effect sizes.These findings provide tentative support for the hypothesis that participants in meditation conditions have longer telomeres than participants in comparison conditions, and that a greater number of hours of meditation is associated with a greater impact on telomere biology. The results of the meta-analysis have potential clinical significance in that they suggest that meditation-based interventions may prevent telomere attrition or increase telomere length.