Thursday, September 5, 2019
A study of more than 69,000 female health professionals ages 58 to 86, and more than 1,400 male veterans ages 41 to 90, who were followed for 10 to 30 years, concluded that a sunny disposition may indeed lengthen your life. The participants who reported the highest levels of optimism were 50% to 70% more likely to live to age 85 or beyond.
The results were steady even when researchers took into account other factors including health conditions such as heart disease, cancer or depression. But other health behaviors such as smoking, excessive drinking, or poor diets lessened the link, possibly due to the fact that optimistic people are more inclined to have positive health habits. In other words "optimism may foster health-promoting habits and bolster resistance of unhealthy impulses," the authors, from Boston University School of Medicine, wrote in their study, published August. 26 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study only shows an association between longevity and optimism, not a certainty. The study mainly included white people with a high socioeconomic status and did not factor in whether participants had lost a job or experienced the death of a loved one, which could also affect the results. More studies are needed, the authors concluded, to determine if optimism truly benefits short and long term health.
See Rachael Rettner, Optimism Key to Living Longer? This Study Says So, Fox News, September 2, 2019.