Pessimistic outlook reduces life expectancy

Researchers in Australia said people who are strongly pessimistic about the future are at greater risk of dying earlier than those who were not pessimists. The findings of the new study have been published this week in the journal ‘Scientific Reports’. TheresearchersfromQIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia, however foundthatbeinganoptimistdid not extend life expectancy.


The lead researcher, Dr. John Whitfield from QIMR Berghofer’s Genetic Epidemiology group, said study participants who scored higher on pessimism in a questionnaire were likely to die on average two years earlier than those with low scores. “We foundpeople whowere strongly pessimistic about the future were more likely to die earlier from cardiovascular (CVDs) diseases and other causes of death, but not from cancer,”


Dr. Whitfield said. CVDs affects the heart and blood vessels. There are many types, including coronary artery disease, angina, and heart failure. CVDs are the number one cause of death globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year.

According to Whitfield, “Optimism scores on the other hand did not show a significant relationship with death, either positive or negative.”


“Less than nine per cent of respondents identified as being strongly pessimistic. There were no significant differences in optimism or pessimism between men and women. On average, an individual’s level of either optimism or pessimism increased with age,” reported the ‘Medical Xpress’.


Whitfield added, “We also found depression did not appear to account for the association between pessimism and mortality.”


The researchers used data collected from almost 3,000 participants who completed the Life Orientation Test as part of a broader questionnaire that looked at the health of Australians aged over 50 between 1993 and 1995. The participants were invited to agree or disagree with anumberof statementsincluding positivestatementssuchas, ‘I’m always optimistic about my future’ or negative statements such as, ‘If something can go wrong for me, it will’.


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