Health
Simple blood test diagnoses Parkinson's disease long before symptoms appear — A new research report appearing in the December issue of the FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) shows how scientists from the United Kingdom have developed a simple blood test to…
Early sign of Alzheimer's reversed in lab — One of the earliest known impairments caused by Alzheimer's disease - loss of sense of smell - can be restored by removing a plaque-forming protein in a mouse model of the disease,…
Parental controls on embryonic development? — When a sperm fertilises an egg, each contributes a set of chromosomes to the resulting embryo, which at these very early stages is called a zygote. Early on, zygotic genes are inert,…
Newly discovered heart stem cells make muscle and bone — Researchers have identified a new and relatively abundant pool of stem cells in the heart. The findings in the December issue of Cell Stem Cell, a Cell Press publication, show that…
BUSM researchers develop blood test to detect membranous nephropathy — Research conducted by a pair of physicians at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Centre (BMC) has led to the development of a test that can help diagnose…
New hip implants no better than traditional implants — New hip implants appear to have no advantage over traditional implants, suggests a review of the evidence published on bmj.com today…
Action needed to improve men's health in Europe — Policies aimed specifically at men are urgently needed to improve the health of Europe's men, say experts on bmj.com today…
Probiotics reduce infections for patients in intensive care — Traumatic brain injury is associated with a profound suppression of the patient's ability to fight infection. At the same time the patient also often suffers hyper-inflammation, due…
High blood sugar levels in older women linked to colorectal cancer — Elevated blood sugar levels are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer, according to a study led by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.…
Engineered botulism toxins could have broader role in medicine — The most poisonous substance on Earth - already used medically in small doses to treat certain nerve disorders and facial wrinkles - could be re-engineered for an expanded role in helping…
Where am I? > Home > News > Health

Study: Happiness improves health and lengthens life

Science Centric | 2 March 2011 12:16 GMT
Printable version A clip for your blog or website E-mail the story to a friend
Bookmark or share the story on your social network Vote for this article Decrease text size Increase text size
DON'T MISS —
'Whose turn to pay?' can be deal-breaker for cohabiting couples
'Whose turn to pay?' can be deal-breaker for cohabiting couples — Couples living together face dozens of spending decisions every week. Should we eat out tonight? Whose turn to pay? Should…
OSU to study air pollutant's impact on Chinese, U.S. health
OSU to study air pollutant's impact on Chinese, U.S. health — Scientists at Oregon State University and China's Peking University plan to use part of a $12.4 million grant to study the…
More Health

A review of more than 160 studies of human and animal subjects has found 'clear and compelling evidence' that - all else being equal - happy people tend to live longer and experience better health than their unhappy peers.

The study, in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, is the most comprehensive review so far of the evidence linking happiness to health outcomes. Its lead author, University of Illinois professor emeritus of psychology Ed Diener, who also is a senior scientist for the Gallup Organisation, of Princeton, N.J., analysed long-term studies of human subjects, experimental human and animal trials, and studies that evaluate the health status of people stressed by natural events.

'We reviewed eight different types of studies,' Diener said. 'And the general conclusion from each type of study is that your subjective well-being - that is, feeling positive about your life, not stressed out, not depressed - contributes to both longevity and better health among healthy populations.'

A study that followed nearly 5,000 university students for more than 40 years, for example, found that those who were most pessimistic as students tended to die younger than their peers. An even longer-term study that followed 180 Catholic nuns from early adulthood to old age found that those who wrote positive autobiographies in their early 20s tended to outlive those who wrote more negative accounts of their young lives.

There were a few exceptions, but most of the long-term studies the researchers reviewed found that anxiety, depression, a lack of enjoyment of daily activities and pessimism all are associated with higher rates of disease and a shorter lifespan.

Animal studies also demonstrate a strong link between stress and poor health. Experiments in which animals receive the same care but differ in their stress levels (as a result of an abundance of nest mates in their cages, for example) have found that stressed animals are more susceptible to heart disease, have weaker immune systems and tend to die younger than those living in less crowded conditions.

Laboratory experiments on humans have found that positive moods reduce stress-related hormones, increase immune function and promote the speedy recovery of the heart after exertion. In other studies, marital conflicts and high hostility in married couples were associated with slow wound healing and a poorer immune response.

'I was almost shocked and certainly surprised to see the consistency of the data,' Diener said. 'All of these different kinds of studies point to the same conclusion: that health and then longevity in turn are influenced by our mood states.'

While happiness might not by itself prevent or cure disease, the evidence that positive emotions and enjoyment of life contribute to better health and a longer lifespan is stronger than the data linking obesity to reduced longevity, Diener said.

'Happiness is no magic bullet,' he said. 'But the evidence is clear and compelling that it changes your odds of getting disease or dying young.'

'Although there are a handful of studies that find opposite effects,' Diener said, 'the overwhelming majority of studies support the conclusion that happiness is associated with health and longevity. Current health recommendations focus on four things: avoid obesity, eat right, don't smoke, and exercise. It may be time to add 'be happy and avoid chronic anger and depression' to the list.'

Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Leave a comment
The details you provide on this page [e-mail address] will not be used to send unsolicited e-mail, and will not be supplied to a third party! Please note that we can not promise to give everyone a response. Comments are fully moderated. Once approved they will be posted within 24 hours.
Expand the form to leave a comment

RSS FEEDS, NEWSLETTER
Find the topic you want. Science Centric offers several RSS feeds for the News section.

Or subscribe for our Newsletter, a free e-mail publication. It is published practically every day.

Cardiac patients trial home-based rehabilitationCardiac patients trial home-based rehabilitation

— Patients who have been treated in hospital for cardiac health problems, such as a heart attack, are being given a powerful new option to help set them on the path…

Health undervalued in reproductive rights debateHealth undervalued in reproductive rights debate

— Women's health is increasingly undervalued in conflicts over reproductive rights, including clashes based on moral objections under so-called conscience clauses,…

Decision support service offers assistance in diagnosing paediatric mental health issuesDecision support service offers assistance in diagnosing paediatric mental health issues

— It is estimated that one out of five children in the United States is suffering from a treatable mental condition. However, with only eight child and adolescent…

Researchers clone key sperm-binding proteinsResearchers clone key sperm-binding proteins

— New treatments for infertility could be closer to reality, thanks to a discovery from scientists at the Universite de Montreal and Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital…

Popular tags in Health: cancer · diabetes · malaria · obesity