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Optimism may cut diabetes risk in women: Study

Positive personality traits such as optimism may help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a study conducted on postmenopausal women claims. The research based on data from a long-term study called the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) explored whether the association between personality traits and risk of diabetes is mediated by behavioural pathways such as diet, smoking, or physical activity.

The study, published in the journal ‘Menopause’, followed 139,924 postmenopausal women from the WHI who were without diabetes at baseline. In 14 years, 19,240 cases of type 2 diabetes were identified.


The results of women with higher quartile of optimism were compared with women who were least optimistic. The former had a 12 per cent lower risk of incident diabetes.

Hostility was more strongly associated with risk of diabetes in women who were not obese compared to women who were. “Personality traits remain stable across one’s lifetime; therefore, women at higher risk for diabetes who have low optimism, high negativity, and hostility could have prevention strategies tailored to their personality types,” said JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

“In addition to using personality traits to help us identify women at higher risk for developing diabetes, more individualized education and treatment strategies also should be used,” Pinkerton said. The findings conclude that low optimism and high negativity were directly correlated with increased risk of incident diabetes in postmenopausal women, independent of other health behaviours and depressive symptoms. The study added to earlier evidence where, higher levels of hostility were associated with high fasting glucose levels, insulin resistance, and prevalent diabetes.