ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Ginkgo No Shield Against Alzheimer's
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
Body Fat, Muscle Distribution Linked to RA Disability
Healthy adults have potential autoimmune disease-causing cells
CANCER
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Antioxidants Pose No Melanoma Threat
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
CAREGIVING
Health Tip: Benefitting From Adult Day Care
With Alzheimer's, Health-Care Costs Could Triple
Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Smog Tougher on the Obese
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
DIABETES
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
DIET, NUTRITION
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
Healthy Eating While On Vacation
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Population-Based Strategy Urged to Cut U.S. Obesity Rate
Meat-Eating Dinosaurs Used Legs and Arms Like Birds
Artificial Light Linked to Prostate Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids' Eye Injuries From Golf Clubs Rare But Severe
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
Diabetic Hispanics Missing Out on Eye Exams
FITNESS
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Vigorous Treadmill Workout Curbs Appetite Hormones
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Why Am I So Tired? Could It Be Low Thyroid?
Autumn Chores Often Hazardous
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
A Little Chocolate May Do the Heart Good
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
Heal Your LifeŽ Tips for Living Well
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
Healthy Diet Could Cut Alzheimer's Disease Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Supportive Weigh-In Program Keeps Pounds Off
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Add your Article

Optimism May Boost Immune System

An optimistic outlook might strenghten your body's ability to fight off infection, new research suggests.

The finding doesn't prove that looking on the sunny side leads to better health, but it does add to evidence of a link between attitude and disease by suggesting that "a single person -- with the same personality and genes -- has different immune function when he or she feels more or less optimistic," said study author Suzanne C. Segerstrom, a professor in the department of psychology at the University of Kentucky.

From 2001 to 2005, Segerstrom and a colleague gave surveys to 124 first-year law students. The students, the majority of whom were white (90 percent) and female (55 percent), answered questions about topics such as their levels of optimism about their success in school.

The participants also were given an injection of an antigen that makes the immune system react by creating a bump on the skin. A bigger bump means that the immune system reaction is stronger.

The researchers, who reported their findings in the March issue of Psychological Science, found that the immune response became more powerful in individual students as they became more optimistic over time, and lessened as they became more pessimistic.

But there's more to it. "When people felt more optimistic, they also felt more happy, attentive and joyous, and that accounted for some of the relationship between optimism and immunity," Segerstrom said.

In the big picture, the findings suggest that the effect of optimism on immunity may be limited, "as it leaves room for lots of other factors that contribute to fluctuations in immunity over time," she said.

James E. Maddux, a professor of psychology at George Mason University, said the findings are "another example of the power of optimism, of what used to be called positive thinking back in the 1950s and 1960s."

He added, "It's hard to make any firm conclusion from a single study, but it's one more piece of evidence that what we think actually matters, in some very important ways."

So what's going on in the body? If there is a link between attitude, emotions and health, how does it work? Dr. Hilary Tindle, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Research on Health Care, has several theories.

One is that "happier or more positive, hopeful people tend to live healthier," she said. And hopeful people may react in healthier ways to stress, helping them to recover more quickly.

Also, "more positive individuals are also more likely to adhere to medical therapy and advice, and therefore may be healthier on that basis," Tindle added.

In a study of women published last August, Tindle found that optimism appears to have an effect on the heart and longevity. "Optimistic women had more stable risk profiles, with less high blood pressure and diabetes. They didn't smoke as much and tended to exercise more. So their lower risk might just be associated with living healthier," she said.

Or, she noted, a woman's outlook on life might affect how she responds to stress. Pessimism and cynical hostility might lead to higher blood pressure, higher heart rate and other physical risk factors, Tindle reported.

SOURCES: Suzanne C. Segerstrom, Ph.D., professor, department of psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington; Hilary Tindle, M.D., M.P.H., researcher, Center for Research on Health Care, division of general internal medicine, University of Pittsburgh; James E. Maddux, Ph.D., professor, department of psychology, George Mason University, Fairfax, Va.; March 2010 Psychological Science Published on: March 25, 2010