ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
Traditional Chinese Therapy May Help Ease Eczema
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Returning to the Road Tricky After Injury
Genes May Help Drive Rotator Cuff Injury
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
CANCER
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Gene Studies Reveal Cancer's Secrets
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
CAREGIVING
Mom's Smoking May Lead to SIDS
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome as Deadly as Ever
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
DIABETES
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
Caffeine May Offer Some Skin Cancer Protection
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Warmer-Than-Average Temperatures Raise Migraine Risk
Heavy Traffic Can Be Heartbreaking
Freckles, Moles May Indicate Risk for Eye Cancer
EYE CARE, VISION
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
FITNESS
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
Almost Two-Thirds of Americans Meet Exercise Guidelines
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Toxins May Form When Skin, Indoor Ozone Meet
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Fussy Babys Could Be Out Of Your Control
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Countdown to Hair Loss
MENTAL HEALTH
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
SENIORS
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
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