Good News for Post-Menopausal Optimists: You Live Longer

Thursday, April 23, 2009 
by: Reuben Chow, citizen journalist
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(NaturalNews) A large study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and presented at the American Psychosomatic Society's annual meeting in Chicago has found that optimistic post-menopausal women were healthier and lived longer than their less upbeat counterparts.

Details and Findings of Study

The study team, which was led by Hilary Tindle, an assistant professor of medicine at the University, had looked at data from almost 100,000 women who were part of the Women's Health Initiative, a study which follows women aged 50 and above and has been ongoing since 1994. On average, the women's health status was tracked for a period of about 8 years.

The researchers defined "optimism" as the expectation that good things, as opposed to bad things, will take place. It was found that such women had 14% lower risk of dying from any cause and 30% lower risk of dying from heart disease during the study's follow-up period, as compared to their pessimistic counterparts. In addition, the optimists were less likely to have hypertension and diabetes, as well as to smoke cigarettes.

The study team also looked at another trait - the tendency to be "cynically hostile" towards other people. Women with this trait were more likely to agree with statements like "I've often had to take orders from someone who didn't know as much as I did" and "It's safest to trust nobody." Generally speaking, such a tendency indicates an overall mistrust of people.

Women in this group also suffered poorer health, having 16% higher risk of dying from any cause and 23% higher risk of dying from cancer during the follow-up period, as compared to women who were the least cynically hostile.

Significantly, even after the researchers accounted for influencing factors such as health status, lifestyle, income, education, physical activity, alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking, the same trends remained, with optimists enjoying better longevity than pessimists. The researchers are unclear if negative attitudes do indeed directly cause poor health, although their findings do imply an association of some sort.

Being Optimistic and Positive

And it's not just about health. Optimists, it seems, are better achievers in life, are better able to cope with stress, and can take on life challenges more resiliently; these traits had been revealed in previous research.

For the skeptics, consider the following point. In his book "Being Happy!", author Andrew Matthews points out scientific experiments showing the incredibly powerful and toxic effects of negative emotions. When blood samples from people who were experiencing serious anger of fear were injected into guinea pigs, the animals dropped dead within a mere two minutes.

Now imagine what the toxins created by negative emotions such as anger, fear, frustration and stress are doing to our own bodies on a daily basis. It is arguable, but these toxins could even be more potent health-destroyers and killers than the external poisons we ingest, inhale, and absorb every minute of every day.

For people who are somewhat naturally upbeat and positive, the findings of the Pittsburgh study will come as good news. But those who tend to be a little more negative and easily discouraged should not fret, because, according to some experts, optimism is a trait that can be picked up and applied.

Some useful suggestions for becoming more optimistic include staying away from negative environments, staying in the company of persons with brighter outlooks, and focusing and celebrating one's strong points instead of concentrating on the weak ones.

Stay cheerful!

References

Optimism May Have Life-Extending Benefits (http://www.healthnews.com/family-he...)

Optimists live longer and healthier lives: study (http://www.reuters.com/article/heal...)

"Being Happy!" by Andrew Matthews

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About the author

Reuben Chow has a keen interest in natural health and healing as well as personal growth. His website, All 4 Natural Health, offers a basic guide on natural health information. It details simple, effective and natural ways, such as the use of nutrition, various herbsherb remedies, supplements and other natural remedies, to deal with various health conditions as well as to attain good health. His other websites also cover topics such as depression helpomega 3 fatty acids, as well as cancer research and information.

**above image courtesy of Horton Group
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With gratitude, I base this blog on the book "Learn to be an Optimist: A Practical Guide to Achieving Happiness" by Lucy MacDonald, a Quebec-based motivational speaker with an academic background in psychology and counseling.

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Thanks so much for commenting! Your wisdom & sharing helps someone else along their journey to life-long happiness and daily optimism! ~Cynthia