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Optimism extends lifespan by 15 percent

Epidemiologists have known for years that optimists live longer than pessimists. That does not yet prove that optimism in itself is 'healthy'. Because maybe people just become more optimistic the better their health is - and the smaller their chance of dying. But according to new figures from researchers at Boston University School of Medicine, this does not explain the connection between optimism and longer life. Optimism itself seems to extend the lifespan...

In their article, published in PNAS, the researchers use data collected in two larger studies. In this message we focus on the data from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS). This research involved seventy thousand highly educated older women, who were followed for 10 years.

The 25 percent most optimistic women lived 19 percent longer than the 25 percent least optimistic women. If the researchers brushed away the effect of health, it changed 19 percent to 15 percent.

It is also possible that optimists do not allow themselves to be beaten down by health problems. If they get too fat, they assume that they can solve that problem, and they get rid of the carbohydrates from their diet. Or they will start jogging or lifting weights. They start to behave healthier, and thus extend their lifespan.

If the researchers brushed away the effect of healthy behavior, it changed 15 percent from above to 9 percent. Healthy behavior is therefore an important explanation for the life-sustaining effect of optimism, but the researchers cannot exclude that optimism itself has a direct life-sustaining effect.

Optimism extends lifespan by 15 percent

Optimism extends lifespan by 15 percent

Optimism extends lifespan by 15 percent

The researchers also analyzed data from a study that related to men. They came to similar conclusions.

"This study has strong public health relevance because it suggests that optimism is one such psychosocial asset that has the potential to extend the human lifespan", says lead author Lewina Lee in a press release. [ August 26, 2019] "Interestingly, optimism may be modifiable using relatively simple techniques or therapies."

"Our study contributes to scientific knowledge on health assets that may protect against mortality risk and promote resilient aging. We hope that our findings will inspire further research on interventions to enhance positive health assets that may improve the public's health with aging."

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Sep 10;116(37):18357-62.

Optimists live longer 24.12.2011

Psychology of Longevity

Positive emotions extend life expectancy by ten years Contented people live longer A life with a purpose lasts longer

Positive emotions extend life expectancy by ten years
Researchers from the university of Kentucky base this bold assertion on research done on 180 nuns.

Contented people live longer
If life has brought you what you wanted, you are less likely to die than if you're dissatisfied with what you've got out of life so far.

A life with a purpose lasts longer
Winning a competition. Conserving an area of nature. Bringing up your children. It doesn't matter what your purpose in life is, as long as you have one.