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Glass Half Full? Optimists Live Longer, According to University of Pittsburgh Study

In a large study of post-menopausal women, optimists had decreased rates of death and were less likely to be hypertensive, diabetic and smokers than pessimists, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In addition, women identified as highly mistrustful of other people had increased rates of death when compared to their less "cynically hostile" counterparts.

The study, led by Hilary Tindle, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Internal Medicine, analyzed data from nearly 100,000 women in the Women's Health Initiative, a National Institutes of Health-funded study that has followed women ages 50 and over since1994, with follow-up ongoing.

Optimism was defined as the expectation that good, rather than bad, things will happen. Female optimists in the group surveyed had a decreased rate of death and were 30 percent less likely to die from coronary heart disease than pessimists. Those identified as being more cynically hostile had a higher rate of death and were 23 percent more likely to die from a cancer-related condition.

For the study, optimism and cynical hostility were not directly compared. Rather, optimists were compared to pessimists, while women with a high degree of cynical hostility were compared to those with a low degree of cynical hostility.

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