When it comes to longevity, feeling young may be more important than being young.

So say a pair of researchers from the University College London and the International Longevity Centre-UK. They analyzed data on nearly 6,500 English adults and found those who felt at least one year older than their actual age were 41 percent more likely to die within eight years than were those who felt at least three years younger than their real age.

When they enrolled in the study, volunteers were asked, "How old do you feel you are?" Although the average actual age of the volunteers was 65.8 years, their average self-perceived age was significantly lower - only 56.8 years.

Fully 69.6 percent of the volunteers felt at least three years younger; only 4.8 percent felt more than one year older. The remaining 25.6 percent felt "about their actual age," the team wrote.

When the team analyzed cancer deaths, they found no real link between perceived age and the risk of death. But when they focused on cardiovascular deaths, people who felt older were 55 percent more likely to die during the study than those who felt younger.

The results could help doctors identify patients who are most in need of their help. - Los Angeles Times