The report which was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, studied 97,253 postmenopausal women (89,259 white, 7,994 black) aged 50 to 79 from the Women’s Health Initiative. All women were free of cancer and cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study.
In order to measure the participants levels of optimism and cynical hostility the researchers asked the women to fill out a Life Orientation Test Revised Questionnaire. Optimism was defined as answering “yes” to questions such as, “In unclear times, I usually expect the best” and pessimism was defined as answering “yes” to questions like, “If something can go wrong for me, it will.”
Scores above above 26 were considered optimistic with 24-25 considered mid-high, 22 – 23 mid-low and anything below 22 classified as pessimistic.
Results found that optimistic women had a 9 percent lower risk of developing heart disease, a 14 percent lower risk of dying from any cause in the next eight years compared to pessimistic women. In addition to this, women displaying high levels of cynical hostility were 16 percent more likely to die during eight years of follow up.
Women with an optimistic attitude were also less likely to smoke, have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or symptoms of depression.
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