Op­ti­mistic women live longer, says study

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE - By XIN­HUA in Wash­ing­ton

Women who have an op­ti­mistic view on life are more likely to live longer, a US study said on Wed­nes­day. The study, pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Epi­demi­ol­ogy, an­a­lyzed data from 2004 to 2012 from 70,000 women en­rolled in the Nurses’ Health Study, a long-run­ning US study track­ing women’s health via sur­veys ev­ery two years.

The re­searchers looked at par­tic­i­pants’ lev­els of optimism and other fac­tors that might play a role in how optimism may af­fect mor­tal­ity risk, such as race, high blood pres­sure, diet and phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

It found the most op­ti­mistic women, or the top quar­tile, had a nearly 30 per­cent lower risk of dy­ing from any of the dis­eases an­a­lyzed in the study com­pared with the least op­ti­mistic women, or the bot­tom quar­tile.

The most op­ti­mistic women had a 16 per­cent lower risk of dy­ing from can­cer; 38 per­cent lower risk of dy­ing from heart dis­ease; 39 per­cent lower risk of dy­ing from stroke; 38 per­cent lower risk of dy­ing from res­pi­ra­tory dis­ease; and 52 per­cent lower risk of dy­ing from in­fec­tion.

Pre­vi­ous stud­ies have linked optimism with re­duced risk of early death from car­dio­vas­cu­lar prob­lems, but this was the first to find a link be­tween optimism and re­duced risk from other ma­jor causes.

“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,” says Eric Kim, re­search fel­low at the Har­vard T.H. Chan School of Pub­lic Health and co-lead au­thor of the study.

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