Thursday, August 13, 2009

Optimistic Women Live Longer

In the US in 2005, life expectancy for women averaged about 80 years, whereas for men it was about 75 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"This research strongly suggests that deep-seated masculinity beliefs are one core cause of men's poor health, inasmuch as they reduce compliance with recommended preventative health services," said study researcher Kristen Springer of Rutgers University in New Jersey.

So while acting the part of a "real man" can attract fertile gals and even help a person to heal faster from injury, keeping up the tough-guy part could mean dodging the doctor's office. Tough guys who buy into ideals of masculinity are much less likely to seek preventive health care services, such as a prostate exam, compared with other men. This new finding, based on survey data, reveals that such manly beliefs could help to explain the lower life expectancy of men compared with women.

Optimistic Women
Optimistic women live longer and healthier lives than their pessimistic peers, the study suggests. Specifically, researchers found that women who see the glass as half full are at a lower risk for developing heart disease (with a lower overall risk of dying from any cause) than those who see the same glass as half empty.

The new research, detailed in the journal Circulation, also found that women with a high degree of cynical hostility, defined as harboring hostile thoughts toward others or having a general mistrust of people, were at a higher risk of dying in general.

"As a physician, I'd like to see people try to reduce their negativity in general," said Dr. Hilary A. Tindle, lead author of the study and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. "The majority of evidence suggests that sustained, high degrees of negativity are hazardous to health." The study is the largest to date to examine the health effects of optimism and cynical hostility in postmenopausal women over time.