Optimistic lung cancer patients live longer

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Lung cancer patients who are optimistic were found to live longer than pessimists in a new study. The findings revealed that patients tested about 18 years before receiving a diagnosis of lung cancer lived six months longer compared to pessimistic patients.

Previous research links a pessimistic outlook with bad health behaviors and poor health. The scientists for the current study sought to clarify further how having a positive outlook affects health. Studies related to cancer patients have been mixed, and some research suggests that having a positive attitude has an important role for boosting immunity. Others suggest that pessimism can shorten the lives of cancer patients.

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Individuals were screened for attitude using the Optimism–Pessimism scale (PSM) of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) between 1997 and 2006. The study was a retroactive analysis that found individuals who scored higher on optimism 18 years before being diagnosed with cancer lived six months longer than those with a negative attitude, regardless of smoking, type of cancer, stage of disease, treatment, age, or gender.

Paul Novotny, MS of the Mayo Clinic says, "Despite limitations, the results may provide insights for advancing patient care in cognitive therapy, one of the many treatment dimensions. 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 psychosocial characteristics most likely to negatively affect cancer treatment decisions and ultimate outcomes."

Novotny also calls the study “impressive”, and included 534 adults. The five year survival rate for lung cancer patients with a positive attitude was 32.9 percent compared to 21.1 percent for pessimists. The findings show that having a positive attitude might extend the lives of patients dealing with cancer.

Journal of Thoracic Oncology
doi: 10.1097/JTO.0b013e3181ce70e8



Hm, interesting findings. It's not a cure, but how can you not support anything that helps improve treatments for lung cancer?