Think Positive, Live Longer


Now even research suggests that optimism can increase life span of cancer patients. Read on fore more details.

Attitude Can Influence Life

Research on the relationship between general patient outlook and longevity is relatively new, and results like this one have made oncologists take a second look at what wasn’t previously considered important in mainstream medicine.

A recent study has shown that optimism can increase the life-span of cancer patients. Findings revealed that among lung cancer patients, those who tested as optimistic, lived on an average for 6 months longer, as compared to pessimistic patients.

Previous studies have linked pessimism to poor health and bad life-style choices. Other studies show that optimism boosts immunity.

Optimism Increases Life-span And Improves Survival Rates

This particular study was conducted among 534 adults, using the Optimism–Pessimism scale (PSM) of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) between 1997 and 2006.

  • It showed that individuals who scored higher on the optimism scale when the study started (18 years earlier) lived longer after their cancer diagnosis.
  • Not only that, the 5-year survival rate for lung-cancer patients with a positive attitude was 32.9 percent compared to 21.1 percent for pessimists.
  • The increased life-span and survival rates were  irrespective of other crucial factors like stage of disease, type of cancer, treatment, age, or gender.

“This may ultimately aid in enhancing current approaches to patient care, such that clinicians may improve survival not only by developing new medical treatments but also by targeting patient’s psycho-social characteristics most likely to negatively affect cancer treatment decisions and ultimate outcomes,” says Paul Novotny, MS of the Mayo Clinic.


  • Do you know people who are innately optimistic … are they generally healthier?
  • And by contrast, what about the pessimists?
  • How would you describe yourself: optimist or pessimist?
  • Was there a time where you thought optimistically and things worked out for the better?
  • Tell us about it, we’d love to know!




Shruthi Joshua is a student of Communications at Mt Carmel College, Bangalore. Ironically, writing is both an unnerving task and a guilty pleasure for Shruthi. She says that Cancer Awakens has been a great learning experience and proves yet again, the Chinese proverb “The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on water, but to walk on earth”.


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