It really is better to give

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caring lib INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS A Cape Town woman helps her HIV-positive neighbour.

London - It has long been said that it’s better to give than receive.

Now scientists have revealed that the benefits of generosity extend beyond a warm glow.

Providing tangible help to others appears to protect our health and lengthens our lives, they claim.

A five-year study of 846 individuals found that when dealing with stressful situations, those who had helped others during the previous year were less likely to die than those who had not.

Stressful experiences included such things as serious illness, burglary, job loss, financial difficulties or death of a family member.

Respondents reported the amount of time in the past 12 months they had spent helping friends, neighbours or relatives not living with them by providing transport, running errands, doing shopping, performing housework, looking after children and other tasks.

Michael J. Poulin, of the University at Buffalo in the US, said: “This study offers a significant contribution…to our understanding of how giving assistance to others may offer health benefits to the giver by buffering the negative effects of stress.”

He added: “Our conclusion is that helping others reduced mortality specifically by buffering the association between stress and mortality.”

The study – in conjunction with Stony Brook University and Grand Valley State University – points out that although it is known that social isolation and stress have significant impacts on health, research has failed to establish whether receiving support from others helps protect individuals from stress in the same way as “givers”.

The report will be published in the American Journal of Public Health. - Daily Mail

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