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Past research has shown that optimism and good health go hand-in-hand: A positive mindset results in better sleep, lower stress and stronger immunity.
The recent paper is a follow-up to a 2019 study that found that people with the most positive outlook had 11 to 15 percent longer lifespans compared with the least optimistic group. In that study, the majority of the participants were white, whereas this time researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health broadened their participant pool to include individuals from different racial and ethnic groups.
They analyzed data and survey responses of nearly 160,000 women in the Women’s Health Initiative, which included postmenopausal women in the US. The women were enrolled between the ages of 50 and 79 from 1993 to 1998 and were tracked for up to 26 years.
The results showed that 25 percent of participants who were the most optimistic had a 5.4 percent longer life and a 10 percent chance of living beyond the age of 90.
The team also said “the benefits of optimism may hold across diverse groups,” noting that there were no interactions between optimism and any categories of race and ethnicity.
The inclusion of various communities in research is vital for public health, according to lead author Hayami Koga. These populations have greater mortality rates than white populations, yet there has been little research on them to help shape health policy decisions.