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Looking on the bright side of life may help you to live longer.

Researchers from Harvard University analysed information from 70,000 women who took part in Nurses’ Health Study (a long-running study tracking women’s health via surveys every two years) which monitored their emotional and physical health, over eight years. They found that those women who were the most optimistic were less likely to have died. The most optimistic women had a 16% lower risk of dying from cancer; 38% lower risk of dying from heart disease; 39% lower risk of dying from stroke; 38%lower risk of dying from respiratory disease; and a 52% lower risk of dying from infection.

The paper, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology and noted that: While most medical and public health efforts today focus on reducing risk factors for diseases, evidence has been mounting that enhancing psychological resilience may also make a difference …. our new findings suggest that we should make efforts to boost optimism, which has been shown to be associated with healthier behaviours and healthier ways of coping with life challenges.”

The researchers believe that higher optimism directly impacts biological systems, possibly boosting immunity and lowering inflammation.

Optimism and Cause-Specific Mortality: A Prospective Cohort Study,” Eric S. Kim, Kaitlin A. Hagan, Francine Grodstein; Dawn L. DeMeo, Immaculata De Vivo, Laura D. Kubzansky, American Journal of Epidemiology, online December 7, 2016, doi: 10.1093/aje/kww182 

 

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