MONDAY, Aug. 26, 2019 (HealthDay News) — An upbeat view of life may increase your odds for living to a ripe old age, new research suggests.
The finding stems from a look at optimism and longevity among nearly 70,000 women and 1,400 men. It builds on earlier research linking higher levels of optimism to lower risks of chronic illness and premature death.
“This study took us further by suggesting that optimistic people are more likely to achieve ‘exceptional longevity,’ which we defined as living to age 85 or older,” said study lead author Lewina Lee, a clinical research psychologist with the U.S. National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System.
Compared to their least optimistic counterparts, the most optimistic men and women studied were 50% to 70% more likely to reach that advanced milestone, Lee said.
They were also 11% to 15% more likely to live longer overall, the study found.
The findings held up even after accounting for other influences, such as educational background, marital status, friendships, chronic health problems, and depression, Lee said.
“Most studies have focused on deficits or problems that increase the risk of dying,” Lee noted. “Our study is novel is that we considered the benefits of a psychological asset — optimism — in promoting longevity.”
Lee and her colleagues discuss their findings in the Aug. 26 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
They concluded that optimism matters after analyzing data from the Nurses’ Health Study, which focused on women, and the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study, which focused on men.
The women were 58 to 86 years old (average age: 70) when their health habits, overall health and optimistic outlook were first assessed. They were followed for 10 years.