The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study revealing an association between optimism and improved health.
Using data from 70,021 women over a long period of time, the study monitored levels of optimism among older women (average age of 70) back in 2004 and tracked deaths until 2012. Factors such as age, race, educational level, and marital status were controlled.
What exactly did the study show?
Women who were most optimistic were 29 percent less likely to die during the six-year study follow-up than the least optimistic
Optimistic women had a 16% reduced risk of cancer
Optimistic women had a 38% reduced risk of heart disease
Optimistic women had a 39% reduced risk of stroke
Optimistic women had a 37% reduced risk of respiratory disease
Optimistic women had a 52% reduced risk infection
Even when existing health conditions were taken into account, the risk of dying was 27% lower among the most optimistic women. Even when controlling for unhealthy behaviors like smoking and healthy ones like exercise, the most optimistic woman had a 14% lower risk of dying.
Mental health is linked to physical well-being. It influences health habits and behaviors. Improved mental health enhances immune function and reduces inflammation.
This study comes at a time when many people are not feeling optimistic at all. The state of our nation seems to be in shambles as we get ready to witness the presidency of a man who has filled his cabinet with right-wing military personnel, global warming non-believers, and racist bigots.
That sentence was pretty dark, but I am going to look on the brights side to see how such injustice has brought people together to fight for what is right.