Women with diverse backgrounds are more likely to reach the age of 90 if they have a positive outlook on life, a new study has identified.

Prior research has found that optimistic individuals who are white tend to live beyond the age of 85.

Chief author Dr Hayami Koga, from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said: “Although optimism itself may be affected by social structural factors, such as race and ethnicity, our research suggests that the benefits of optimism may hold across diverse groups.

“A lot of previous work has focused on deficits or risk factors that increase the risks for diseases and premature death.”

She added: “Our findings suggest that there’s value to focusing on positive psychological factors, like optimism, as possible new ways of promoting longevity and healthy aging across diverse groups.”

During the study, the team of academics examined data and questionnaire replies from more than 150,000 females from the Women’s Health initiative, all of whom were aged between 50 and 79 when they enrolled in the study in the nineties.

They found that the participants from an ethnic group with a positive mindset lived 5.4% longer than those with a negative outlook on life.

In addition, they discovered that the optimistic participants with a diverse background were 10% more likely to live beyond the age of 90 compared to those who were less optimistic.

Dr Koga said: “We tend to focus on the negative risk factors that affect our health. It is also important to think about the positive resources such as optimism that may be beneficial to our health, especially if we see that these benefits are seen across racial and ethnic groups.”

The study can now be accessed in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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