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Cheer Up, Breathe Better

Optimistic people actually breathe easier, study says

MONDAY, May 20, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Don't worry, breathe happy.

The more optimistic you are, the better your lungs function, says a new study from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass.

The study included 670 men whose average age was 63 at the start of the study. They were followed for an average of eight years and had an average of three lung exams during that time. A special questionnaire was used to determine how they felt about their lives.

The men shown to be more optimistic had significantly higher lung function and a slower rate of decline in lung function than their more pessimistic counterparts. The findings were to be presented today at the American Thoracic Society's annual meeting in Atlanta.

The researchers say this is the first study to link optimism and lung function over time. They suggest a person's outlook may influence the body's immune system processes that play a role in airway inflammation associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

They plan to examine whether optimism has the same effect on lung function in women, younger people and people of different races.

More information

This flow chart from familydoctor.org shows the symptoms of various breathing problems and recommends when it's time to seek professional help.

SOURCE: News release, American Thoracic Society, May 2002
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