A five-year study, led by the University College London, has found that happiness can help people live longer and those with a positive outlook have a 35 per cent reduced risk of dying early.
The study of almost 4,000 52 to 79-year-olds found the higher they rated their contentment, the longer they lived.
Health psychologist Andrew Steptoe, of University College London, who led the study, was quoted by the ‘Daily Express’ as saying, “The present findings provide further reason to target the positive wellbeing of older people.”
Previous studies showed that a positive mood could reduce stress-related hormones and boost immune function, paving the way to better health and longer life.
This latest research, published in the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ journal, is further evidence that a “glass half-full” attitude is good for health.
For the study, the researchers asked participants to rate their feelings of happiness over a day.
They questioned more than 3,800 people taking part in a long-running British study of ageing, to rate their feelings of happiness or anxiety four times daily. They followed them for five years, recording the number of deaths.
After noting age, gender, depression, certain diseases and health-related behaviours, the researchers found those who reported feeling happiest had a 35 per cent reduced risk of dying early compared to those who reported being least happy.
Professor Steptoe said the link between happiness and living longer could be down to having lower stress hormones that can trigger disease. He said: “We suspect there may be a biological process that helps people survive longer if they are happy.Stress hormones such as cortisol fall when you are more satisfied with your lot and that could be a significant factor in our findings.”