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The effects of good and bad emotions on health and longevity is still the object of considerable scientific research. Are anger, contempt and sadness capable of causing harm to the organism? Does happiness, self-confidence and disposition truly influence positively? A study of more than two decades, conducted by researchers at the University of Bordeaux, in France, shows that positive feelings are in fact associated to longevity while negative feelings do not seem to be a risk factor of life.

Researchers Kamel Gana, Guillaume Broc, Yaël Saada, Hélène Amieva and Bruno Quintard examined relationships between components of subjective well-being – which measure the level of life satisfaction, a mixture of positive and negative feelings – and mortality by all causes in older adults.

The analysis of survival time was applied to the data of a group with 3,777 men and women between the ages of 62 and 101, who were assessed 10 times over a 22-year period. Factors of little or no variation (age, sex, baseline of satisfaction with life, diabetes and cholesterol dosage) and factors with a lot of variation (positive emotions, negative emotions, dementia, autonomy and self-analyzed state of health) were included sequentially in the analyses.

When added to the model established by the researchers, only positive emotions showed an association with longevity in 95% of interviewees. The benefits persisted even when they interacted with negative ones and adjusted by previous medical conditions, functional state and self-assessment. Positive emotions proved to be a factor of protection regardless of negative variations.

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