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Happy Thoughts for Future = More Time to Live It?

A study in women suggests that hopeful individuals are less likely than others to suffer an early death. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

Here is a good reason to be hopeful about the future: it might help you stay alive.

Findings from a new study were presented at a recent meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society. Researchers in the United States studied one hundred thousand women during an eight-year period, beginning in nineteen ninety-four. All of the women were fifty years of age or older. The study was part of the Women's Health Initiative organized by the National Institutes of Health.

The women were asked questions that measured their beliefs or ideas about the future. The researchers attempted to identify each woman's personality eight years after gathering the information.

The study found that hopeful individuals were fourteen percent less likely than other women to have died from any cause. The hopeful women were also thirty percent less likely to have died from heart disease after the eight years.

Hilary Tindle from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania was the lead author of the report. She said the study confirmed earlier research that linked optimistic feelings to longer life.

The researchers also gathered information about people's education, financial earnings, physical activity and use of alcohol or cigarettes. Independent of those things, the findings still showed that optimists had less of a chance of dying during the eight-year period.

Some women who answered the questions were found to be cynically hostile, or highly untrusting of others. These women were sixteen percent more likely to die than the others. They also were twenty-three percent more likely to die of cancer.

The study also found that women who were not optimistic were more likely to smoke and have high blood pressure or diabetes. They were also more likely not to exercise.

Professor Tindle says the study did not confirm whether optimism leads to healthier choices, or if it actually affects a person's physical health. She also says the study does not prove that negative emotions or distrust lead to bad health effects and shorter life. Yet there does appear to be a link that calls for more research.

And that's the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Brianna Blake. For more health news, with transcripts and MP3s, go to And you can also follow our reports at I'm Steve Ember.