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Am J Cardiol. 2013 May 15;111(10):1425-31. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2013.01.292. Epub 2013 Feb 21.

Relation between optimism and lipids in midlife.

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Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.


The present research examined optimism's relation with total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides. The hypothesis that optimism is associated with a healthier lipid profile was tested. The participants were 990 mostly white men and women from the Midlife in the United States study, who were, on average, 55.1 years old. Optimism was assessed by self-report using the Life Orientation Test. A fasting blood sample was used to assess the serum lipid levels. Linear and logistic regression models examined the cross-sectional association between optimism and lipid levels, accounting for covariates such as demographic characteristics (e.g., education) and health status (e.g., chronic medical conditions). After adjusting for covariates, the results suggested that greater optimism was associated with greater high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and lower triglycerides. Optimism was not associated with low-density lipoprotein or total cholesterol. The findings were robust to a variety of modeling strategies that considered the effect of treatment of cholesterol problems. The results also indicated that diet and body mass index might link optimism with lipids. In conclusion, this is the first study to suggest that optimism is associated with a healthy lipid profile; moreover, these associations can be explained, in part, by the presence of healthier behaviors and a lower body mass index.

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