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Women Who Are More Positive May Live Longer

10 December 2016

And while previous studies have shown a direct link between optimism and a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, Kim says it was surprising to find that having a positive outlook is pretty systemic and can help protect women from so many other deadly conditions.

Always look on the bright side of life - it could be the secret to longevity.

"Our new findings suggest that we should make efforts to boost optimism, which has been shown to be associated with healthier behaviors and healthier ways of coping with life challenges", he added.

They found that after controlling for factors including age, race, educational level and marital status, the women who were most optimistic were 29 percent less likely to die during the six-year study follow-up than the least optimistic.

The researchers found that the most optimistic women had almost a 30% lower risk of dying from the diseases analyzed in the study.

While the study uncovered an association between optimism and life span, it did not prove cause and effect.

The diseases analysed in the study included cancer (16 percent lower risk of death), heart disease (38 percent), stroke (39 percent), respiratory disease (38 percent) and infection (52 percent).

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The unprecedented association between positive sense of well-being and better health was reported in the December 7th edition of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The researchers reached the conclusion after reviewing records on 70,000 women.

The survey measured optimism levels by asking the women to use a five-point scale to indicate whether they agreed or disagreed with statements such as "In uncertain times, I usually expect the best". Researchers also mentioned that a healthy lifestyle can make a person feel more optimistic and an optimistic person has a healthy lifestyle. They were then divided into groups depending on how optimistic they were.

One possible way to explain their findings is that people with more positive attitudes tend to engage in healthier behaviors.

While the study is observational and can not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between optimism and a longer life, the researchers have some theories for what might be behind the connection.

"Previous studies have shown that optimism can be altered with relatively uncomplicated and low-priced interventions, even something as simple as having people write down and think about the best possible outcomes for various areas of their lives, such as careers or friendships", said postdoctoral research fellow Kaitlin Hagan, co-lead author of the study. "People with more optimism have better health habits - they exercise more, eat better - and those things are attributed to lower mortality rates", Hagan said.

Women Who Are More Positive May Live Longer