[POSITIVE THINKING = LONG LIFE] Optimism tied to living 90+ across racial/ethnic groups
Higher levels of optimism were associated with longer lifespan and living beyond age 90 among women across racial and ethnic groups in a study led by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
"A lot of previous work has focused on deficits or factors that increase the risks for diseases and premature death,” said lead study author Hayami Koga. Our findings suggest that there's value to focusing on positive psychological factors, like optimism, as possible new ways of promoting longevity and healthy aging across diverse groups."
The researchers analyzed data and survey responses from 159,255 participants in the Women's Health Initiative, which included postmenopausal women in the US. The women enrolled at ages 50-79 from 1993 to 1998 and were followed for up to 26 years.
The 25% of participants who were the most optimistic were likely to have a 5.4% longer lifespan and a 10% greater likelihood of living beyond 90 years than the 25% who were the least optimistic. The researchers also found no interaction between optimism and any categories of race and ethnicity, and these trends held true after taking into account demographics, chronic conditions, and depression.
Lifestyle factors, such as regular exercise and healthy eating, accounted for less than a quarter of the optimism-lifespan association, indicating that other factors may be at play. Koga said that the study's results could reframe how people view the decisions that affect their health.
"We tend to focus on the negative risk factors that affect our health," Koga noted. "It is also important to think about the positive resources such as optimism that may be beneficial to our health, especially if we see that these benefits are seen across racial and ethnic groups."
To read the article, “Optimism, lifestyle, and longevity in a racially diverse cohort of women,” click here
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