Entries in Positivity (2)


Centenarians' Positive Attitude Linked to Long Life

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Living to a very old age may be "in the genes" as the saying goes, still a recent study published in the journal Aging suggests that certain personality traits make up a major part of the mix of longevity genes.

Researchers found that having a positive attitude and a sense of humor could play a role in living a longer, healthier life.  They developed a questionnaire designed to identify certain genetically-based personality traits and used it to assess 243 Ashkenazi Jewish adults between 95 and 107 years of age. The investigators chose this population because their genetic similarity would make it easier to account for genetic differences in personality.

"The results indicated they had two things -- a positive attitude for life, meaning they are optimistic, easygoing, extraverted, laughed more and expressed emotions rather than bottling them up," said Dr. Nil Barzilai, a study co-author and director of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Institute for Aging Research.

The study participants also were less neurotic and more conscientious than a representative sample of other Americans.

Based on census data, centenarians make up about .2 percent of the U.S. population, but the number has been rapidly increasing, the authors wrote.

Previous research has suggested that the oldest adults may be genetically predisposed to living longer and healthier -- both physiologically and psychologically -- and that personality can affect a person's physical health.

"There's an interaction between personality and physiology," said Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Center on Aging.  Small was not involved in Barzilai's study, but has done research in this area. "It makes sense that being more positive causes less stress and seems to get people on the right track to live better."

The genes, it turns out, play a less important role in determining longevity.

"Several studies have found that genetics accounts for only about one-third of how long and well we live," said Small, who is also co-author of The Alzheimer's Prevention Program.

Barzilai added that it's still not known precisely how personality influences longevity.

"We still need to find out what the cause-and-effect relationship is," he said.  "We don't know if we can change longevity by having a positive attitude, or if achieving longevity causes a positive attitude."

They also hope to determine whether centenarians' positive outlook persisted throughout their entire lives, or if their personalities changed between the ages of 70 and 100, as some data have suggested.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Optimism Linked to Improved Survival With Coronary Artery Disease

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Can a smile a day keep your heart okay? Some researchers are now saying say it might.

A new study released Monday and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine adds to growing evidence that having a positive attitude can help you live longer.

Researchers looked at nearly 3,000 patients who underwent hospital treatment for heart disease and found that those who had the highest expectations of a full recovery had a higher chance of living longer than those who were pessimistic about their chance of recovery.

Study researchers also noted that those who are generally optimistic about their health are more likely to follow treatment recommendations.

On the other hand, those who are pessimistic about their health may experience stress that could trigger additional heart problems, researchers said.

The nearly 3,000 patients enrolled were followed for 15 years. One year after their hospital stay, they were asked to fill out a survey that would help researchers learn more about their attitude.  The group of patients with a better perspective on their health had lived nearly 20 percent longer than those who seemed pessimistic. Optimistic patients also lived a more active lifestyle than the pessimists.

Previous studies looking at other potentially fatal diseases including cancer suggest that a positive outlook can affect not only your quality of life, but also whether you survive longer.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio