Study: Altruism benefits givers' health

Dec. 21, 2011 at 11:26 PM
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STONY BROOK, N.Y., Dec. 21 (UPI) -- If the benefits of volunteering or altruism could be put into a pill, it would be a bestseller overnight, a U.S. researcher says.

Stephen G. Post of Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York reviewed more than 50 studies that used a variety of methodologies, showing people who act sincerely for the benefit of others enjoy happiness, health and even increased longevity.

"In total, the research on the benefits of giving is extremely powerful, to the point that suggests healthcare professionals should consider recommending such activities to patients," Post said in a statement.

Some of the recurring concepts related to giving and health include:

-- Giving and even just thinking about giving are linked to health and well being.

-- People who are self absorbed are not very happy.

-- Helping is also a form of self-help when the giver has experienced the same problems as those receiving.

-- Volunteerism has positive impacts on happiness, mood, self-esteem, physical and mental health.

-- Altruism is associated with a substantial reduction in mortality rates and is linked to longevity.

"After examining the many studies it is difficult to dismiss the idea that it's good to be good," Post said. "The right 'dose' of good will varies from person to person and there is no detailed prescription for everyone, but the principle can at least be established scientifically."

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