Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Curious Rats Live Longer

Curious female rats, more willing to step out and explore their environment, survive breast and pituitary tumors longer than their more cautious sisters, says a Penn State researcher.

Dr. Sonia Cavigelli, assistant professor of biobehavioral health, says that her study of 80 female rats from birth to death shows that the curious ones with tumors lived, on average, an additional six months, or 25 percent longer lives, than the cautious ones.


"It's difficult to extrapolate from rats to people," she notes. "However, there have been studies that show that shy elderly people report more health symptoms than their more outgoing age-mates. Our new results with rats are consistent with those findings and support the notion that personality traits may have a significant impact on health and resilience to disease."


The rats used in the study spontaneously develop breast or pituitary tumors near the end of their lives. In the study, 93 percent of the rats developed these tumors.


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