positive outlook

Women with a positive outlook on life live healthier and longer

A study published last November warned of the importance of a positive view of life in women and that, a negative view of life, pessimism was bad, very bad for the heart. And what was even worse, if possible, is that optimism did not seem to have any positive effect on the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. That is, having a positive outlook on life will not help protect us from a heart attack or stroke. However, it is very possible that this is not so. Or at least, in the case of the female population. And is that a study carried out by researchers of the Faculty of Public Health T.H. Chan from Harvard University (USA) shows that optimistic women have a lower risk of premature mortality from a number of very serious diseases. And not just from a stroke or heart disease, but also from an infectious disease, a respiratory disease or cancer.

Positive view of life

As Eric Kim, co-director of this research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, explains, “while most efforts in medicine and public health are focused on reducing risk factors for disease, there is increasing accumulated evidence that the empowerment of psychological resilience can make the difference. Our findings suggest that we should strive to promote optimism, which has shown association with healthier habits and healthier ways of coping with the challenges of life. ”

Very good for your health

To carry out the study, the authors analyzed the data recorded between 2004 and 2012 in the medical records of about 70,000 female participants in the Nurses’ Health Study. They also assessed participants’ level of optimism, paying particular attention to those factors that could affect how optimism influences mortality risk, such as diet, physical activity, or level of risk. blood pressure.

The best results are those of optimistic women

The results showed that, compared to the most pessimistic women, the women in the quartile of the most optimistic – or what is the same, 25% of the participants with higher levels of optimism – had a lower risk, up to 30%, to die prematurely of one of the diseases evaluated in the study. In fact, the most optimistic women were up to 52% less likely to die from an infectious disease. A reduction in the risk of mortality, which was also established in 39% in the case of stroke; 38% in the case of heart disease or respiratory diseases; and 16% in the case of cancer.

Consequently, this study is the first to associate optimism with a lower risk of premature death due to different diseases, not only because of cardiovascular pathologies. But this effect of optimism on survival, how can this be? According to Eric Kim, “Healthy habits only partly explain the association between optimism and the lower risk of mortality. Thus, one possible explanation would be that greater optimism impacts directly on our biological systems. ”

Boost optimism

In short, taking a positive outllook and hoping that things will turn out well seems to help women live longer. And while it does not seem very plausible, nor effective, that doctors prescribe recipes of optimism to their patients, it may not be so complicated that the population faces life with a little more positivism.

As Kaitlin Hagan, co-director of this research, concludes, “Various previous studies have shown that optimism can be modified by interventions that are simple and cheap, such as asking people to think about and write down the best measures to adapt positively some areas of their lives, their careers or their friendships. Promoting these initiatives could be an innovative way of boosting health in the future “.

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