The 1988 song by Bobby McFerrin, Don't Worry, Be Happy, might now be more accurate by adding the words "be healthy". According to a study led by Dr. Hilary Tindle, an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Internal Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, optimists have lower rates of death and a lower incidence of many chronic diseases compared to pessimists. The results of this study were presented at the American Psychosomatic Society's 67th annual meeting in Chicago.
A story on this report published on March 9, 2009 in Medical News Today noted that the study found that women who were optimists and more trustful of people had lower rates of death and incidence of many chronic diseases compared to their pessimistic counterparts who were more cynical or hostile.
Dr. Tindle and her colleagues performed the study by analyzing information gathered from more than 97,000 women ages 50 to 74 years old, who answered questionnaires on their attitudes. At the start of the study these women did not have heart disease or cancer.
The results showed that after eight years, optimistic women had a 14 percent lower risk of dying from any cause than those who were classified as pessimistic. The study also noted that the differences were more extreme in African-American women, where optimists had a 44 percent lower risk of cancer-related death and cynically hostile women had a 142 percent higher risk of cancer death.
In a March 6, 2009 New York Daily News article lead author Dr. Tindle stated, "Taking into account income, education, health behaviors like blood pressure and whether or not you are physically active, whether or not you drink or smoke, we still see optimists with a decreased risk of death compared to pessimists."