Can Women Benefit from Positivity and Mindfulness?

Two recent studies have evaluated the impacts of optimism and practicing mindfulness in menopausal and postmenopausal women—and found results worth smiling about.

The first one, a cross-sectional study published in the journal Climacteric, evaluated how higher mindfulness and lower stress could impact menopausal symptoms. A total of 1,744 women aged between 40 and 65 years responded to the Menopause Rating Scale (MRS), the Perceived Stress Scale-4 (PSS-4), and the Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS). Researchers used linear regression to measure the effects of mindfulness and stress through univariate and multivariable analyses.

Higher mindfulness measured with MAAS and lower stress as evidenced through PSS-4 were independently associated with reduced MRS scores.

“On multivariable analysis, a significant interaction effect was observed between the MAAS and PSS-4 on the MRS, such that with higher PSS-4 scores, the magnitude of association between the MAAS and lower MRS scores was larger,” the researchers noted.

The second study, published in the Journal Menopause, questioned whether personality traits could play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes in postmenopausal women.

Researchers focused on the effects of optimism, ambivalence over emotional expressiveness, negative emotional expressiveness, and hostility in 139,924 postmenopausal women (aged 50–79 years) from the Women’s Health Initiative. Women were followed for a mean of 14 years and did not have diabetes at baseline. Researchers analyzed the relationship between personality traits and type 2 diabetes using multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression models. They used questionnaires at baseline to collect personality traits, and they self-reported onset of type 2 diabetes following a physician’s diagnosis.

During follow-up, 19,240 women developed type 2 diabetes. When comparing the least optimistic women to the most optimistic, the patients with the most optimism had a 12% decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes (hazard ratio [HR], 0.88; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.84–0.92). Negative emotional expressiveness (NEE) and hostility were also associated with a greater type 2 diabetes risk: women with the highest NEE had a 9% greater likelihood of type 2 diabetes (HR, 1.09; 95% CI: 1.05-1.14), and the most hostile patients were 17% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes (HR, 1.17; 95% CI: 1.12-1.23). When looking at hostility, the association was greater for nonobese women than obese women.

The researchers recommended, “In addition to efforts to promote healthy behaviors, women’s personality traits should be considered to guide clinical or programmatic intervention strategies in diabetes prevention.”

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Sources: Climacteric, Menopause