Optimism, Lower Hostility Linked to Reduced Mortality

Study finds optimistic women experience lower heart disease outcomes and mortality
By Lisa Cockrell, PhD
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Both optimism and cynical hostility are independently associated with cancer and coronary heart disease outcomes, including mortality, according to research published online Aug. 10 in Circulation.

Hilary A. Tindle, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues reported an analysis of the Women's Health Initiative study, in which 97,253 women, identified as being free of cancer and cardiovascular disease at study entry, were administered questionnaires at baseline to measure their optimism and cynical hostility. The study follow-up was approximately eight years.

The researchers found that age-adjusted rates of coronary heart disease increased significantly with decreasing levels of optimism and decreased significantly with decreasing levels of hostility. Compared with pessimists, optimists experienced reduced incidence of several health outcomes, including myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease, and all-cause mortality. Cynical hostility was independently associated with increased all-cause mortality and cancer-related mortality; these outcomes were more pronounced in the most hostile African-American women.

"Further research is needed to understand how and why optimism and cynical hostility affect health outcomes in women and how they develop in earlier stages of life, as well as to identify therapies to alter these attitudes in healthy ways," the authors write.

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