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Optimistic Outlook on Life Associated with Longevity

All-cause mortality higher among those with pessimistic explanatory style

TUESDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- An optimistic approach to life is associated with lower all-cause mortality, according to the results of a 40-year follow-up study published in the December issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Beverly H. Brummett, Ph.D., of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and colleagues analyzed data from a study of 6,958 students who completed the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory during the mid-1960s, for whom scores on the Optimism-Pessimism scale and data for all-cause mortality through 2006 were available.

Those who scored in the upper tertile for pessimism had lower rates of longevity compared with those who were the most optimistic (i.e., scoring in the bottom tertile). The authors point to several factors that may explain the findings, such as depression being a risk factor for mortality. However, the study also has limitations. The data sample was homogeneous in terms of race, age and education level, and the data did not allow the researchers to correct for mortality-related constructs, such as body mass index and smoking.

"Optimism may influence health through its strong inverse association with depression. In addition, optimists may be more likely to use the health care system to their benefit and have a lifestyle that consists of healthy dietary practices and exercise habits," they write.

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