Optimism: the elixir for a longer life in women

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According to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, women who were optimistic had reduced risk of dying from a range of diseases including cancer, heart diseases, strokes, respiratory diseases and infection with their lifespan increasing by as any 8 years.

Optimism is the tendency to hope, believe and expect things to be positive. Experts believe that the link between optimism and health is important subject of study as will enable us to find ways of making life of people better without the need for medicines and drugs.

Encouraging people to imagine a bright future could be a good medicine to boost public health, said the authors of the study in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The team said that a lot of health bodies should also work on incorporating positive thinking in addition to treatments given to patients with enhancement of diet and exercise, which would yield healthier results.

The study was conducted among 70,000 women from 2004 to 2012 and noticed the effects of optimism on mortality alongside race, diet, physical activity and blood pressure.

The studies show that: Most optimistic women had 30 per cent lesser risk from dying of such diseases as compared to less optimistic women. Optimists had:

  • 16 per cent lower risk of dying from cancer.
  • 38 per cent lower risk of dying from heart disease.
  • 39 per cent lower risk of dying from stroke.
  • 38 per cent lower risk of dying from respiratory disease.
  • 52 per cent lower risk of dying from infection.

The study also found that healthy behaviours only partially explain the link between optimism and reduced mortality risk. One other possibility is that higher optimism directly impacts our biological systems.

Authors point out that twin studies suggest up to 25 per cent of optimism might be genetic or inherited which would mean up to 75 per cent could be modifiable. Though the study only investigated women’s health, the researchers say that their results likely apply to men as well.

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