News, Jazz, NPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Health News Florida
Healthy State tells the stories you need to know to stay well, with a special focus on Florida.We'll bring you the latest fitness trends, new research on preventing and treating disease, and information about how health policy impacts your pocketbook.We report on health using all the tools at our disposal -- video, audio, photos and text -- to bring these stories to life.Healthy State is a project of WUSF Public Media in Tampa and is heard on public radio stations throughout Florida. It also is available online at wusfnews.org.

New Happiness Gene Found in Women

Screen shot 2012-08-28 at 2.43.46 PM.png

 

Sorry guys. This one's for the ladies. A new study has found a gene that appears to make women happy. The findings appear online in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry.

According to USF Health, scientists at the University of South Florida, the National Institutes of Health, Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute reported that the low activity form of the gene monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) is associated with higher self-reported happiness in women. 

However, the findings were not the same for men.

“This is the first happiness gene for women,” said lead author Henian Chen, MD, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, USF College of Public Health.

“It’s even called the warrior gene by some scientists, but, at least for women, our study points to a brighter side of this gene,”
Chen says.

“While they experience higher rates of mood and anxiety disorders, women tend to report greater overall life happiness than do men.”

However, the reason for this remains unclear.

“This new finding may help us to explain the gender difference and provide more insight into the link between specific genes and human happiness.”


The MAOA gene regulates the activity of an enzyme that breaks down serontin, dopamine and other neurotransmitters in the brain -- the same “feel-good” chemicals targeted by many antidepressants. 

The low-expression version of the MAOA gene promotes higher levels of the enzyme monoamine oxidase, which allows larger amounts of these neurotransmitters to stay in the brain and boost mood.