Cantankerous style 'key to longer life'

Researchers have found that being cantankerous is the key to reaching old age—this is because happier characters are likely to take more risks through their lives including eating unhealthy foods, drinking and smoking.

The findings, part of a 90-year study, cast doubt on reports that loving marriages, active social lives, raising children or owning a pet help people to live longer, the Daily Express reported.

Researcher Leslie Martin said: “We came to a new understanding about happiness and health. One of the findings that astounded us was that participants who were the most cheerful and had the best sense of humour as children lived shorter lives, on average, than those who were less cheerful.

“The prudent and persistent individuals stayed healthiest and lived longest.”

The study, called the “Longevity Project”, also found owning a pet could improve general “well-being” but made no difference to living longer. Similarly, people being cared for as they got older stayed cheerful but, didn’t live longer.

However, caring for others can help because it often makes carers more aware of general health risks and persuades them to lead healthier lives.

The researchers from California University have spent the last 20 years analysing the results of research that began in 1921 on 1,500 10-year-old children.

The children, all born 100 years ago, were asked about everything from owning pets to work, friends and families. In addition, their health data and daily lives were all followed up in the following years.

But while many of their attitudes when young could be linked to how long they eventually lived, several common theories were proved wrong.

Worrying less and staying cheerful were not likely to help them live longer and often had the opposite effect, because happy-go-lucky people took greater chances with their health, according to the researchers.

Adults who retired later were also more likely to make it into old age.

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