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Be Happy! You May Live Longer
People who are happy and enjoy life have a lower risk of premature death as they age, HealthDay News reports of research from University College London. Why? Enjoying life can lower stress and that can lead to a longer life.

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The study: Led by Andrew Steptoe, director of the Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care at University College London, the team collected data on more than 9,300 British men and women, all of whom were at least 50 years old and were part of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. The researchers questioned each of the participants three times over a five-year period in 2002, 2004 and 2006 to assess their enjoyment of life and level of happiness. Follow-up continued through 2013.

Those who answered "never or rarely" to all four life-enjoyment questions were classified as having no enjoyment, while those responding "sometimes and often" were categorized as having high enjoyment. Factors that could influence the results, including wealth, education, health issues and depression, were taken into account.

During the three times they were asked about their level of enjoyment in life, 24 percent of the respondents never once said they enjoyed life. Twenty percent reported once or twice that they had high enjoyment, while more than 33 percent said all three times they had a high level of joy.

The results:

  • By 2013, more than 1,300 participants had died. The deceased tended to have reported not enjoying life, with deaths increasing for each report of no enjoyment.

  • The risk of dying from any cause was 17 percent less among people who reported enjoying life on two of three assessments, compared with those who reported no enjoyment.

  • Those who consistently said they enjoyed life were 24 percent less likely to die during the study's follow-up period, compared with those who said they find little joy in their lives.

One important caveat: This was an observational study. That is, there is no cause-and-effect relationship between enjoying life and living longer. And being happy doesn't mean you will automatically enjoy good health. However, while other factors that were not measured by the British team could be responsible for the extra years of life, the findings do support the hypothesis that a positive outlook is relevant to your future health,

The takeaway: Don't worry! Be happy!

The study findings have been published in the journal BMJ.

At what age are we the happiest? If you want to be happier and less stressed, just keep having birthdays. The golden years should be renamed the happy years.

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