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Gene that shapes our happiness levels identified


May 6, 2011 - London

Why so some people tend to be naturally happier than others? The secret lies in our genes as well as our lifestyles, says a new study.

According to scientists from the London School of Economics, the secret is a gene that releases 'happy' chemicals into the brain.

This 5-HTT gene also helps nerve cells recycle serotonin, another chemical in the brain that is linked to mood and depression.

The researchers analysed the genes of 2,500 people and found the happiest were the ones who inherited two 'long' versions of the 5-HTT gene.

The least happy were those who inherited the two 'short' versions of the gene.

"It has long been suggested that this gene plays a role in mental health, but this study is the first to to show it is instrumental in shaping individual happiness levels," the Daily Mail quoted behavioural economist Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, who conducted the research, as telling The Daily Express.

"The results suggest a strong link between happiness and this functional variant of the 5-HTT gene. This finding helps to explain why some people tend to be naturally happier than others, and that's in no small part due to our individual genetic make-up," he added.

To conduct the research, the researchers compared the genetic make-up of each volunteer and asked them a series of questions including: 'How satisfied as a whole are you with your life?'

Those who had two long 5-HTT genes reported the most positive results - with the chances of them replying 'very positive' boosted by 17 percent.

Some 26 percent of those with two short 5-HTT genes were dissatisfied with their life.

The study is published in the Journal of Human Genetics.

ANI

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