Optimistic Women Live Longer

Optimistic Women Live LongerOptimistic Women Live Longer

New research suggests women who have a positive outlook on life are less likely to die prematurely than those who are less optimistic.

Co-lead author Eric Kim, of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, and colleagues say their findings suggest people should look at boosting their optimism as a way to improve health.

Researchers recently published their findings in the American Journal of Epidemiology, reported.

Optimism is defined as a mental attitude characterized by positive thinking, whereby a person is hopeful and confident that good things will happen.

Many studies have suggested that people who are optimistic tend to have better mental and physical health than those who are pessimistic and have a negative outlook on life, always expecting the worst.

Research conducted by the University of Illinois last year, for example, found that optimists were twice as likely to have better heart health than their more pessimistic counterparts.

The new study investigates whether having a positive outlook on life might influence the risk of death from various medical conditions. To reach their findings, Kim and colleagues analyzed 2004-2012 data from around 70,000 women who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study - an ongoing project that assesses women’s health through surveys conducted every 2 years.

They looked at the self-reported optimism of each participant, as well as other factors that might contribute to mortality risk, such as high blood pressure, diet, and exercise. Compared with women in the lowest quartile of optimism, those in the highest quartile of optimism were found to be nearly 30% less likely to die from all causes.

Researchers found that women who were the most optimistic were 16% less likely to die from cancer, 38% less likely to die from heart disease, and 39% less likely to die from stroke, compared with women who were the least optimistic.

Additionally, women in the top quartile of optimism were at 38% lower risk of death from respiratory disease and were 52% less likely to die from infection, compared with those in the bottom quartile.

Researchers noted that theirs is the first study to associate mental attitude with reduced mortality from other major illnesses. Previous studies have linked optimism to reduced risk of cardiovascular death.

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