How a person rates her own health is linked to the probability of her survival or death, as far in the future as 30 years or more.

A pessimistic assessment goes hand in hand with an increased risk of illness or death. People who rate their health as poor:

• have an unhealthier lifestyle

• are often in a fragile state of health; or

• are already sick.

Men who rated their health as “very poor” were 3.3 times more likely to die than men of the same age who rated their health as “excellent.” The risk of death was 1.9 times higher in women who rated their health as “very poor” than for those who rated it as “excellent.”

“Our results indicate that people who rate their state of health as excellent have attributes that improve and sustain their health,” concludes specialist in preventive medicine David Fäh. “These might include a positive attitude, an optimistic outlook and a fundamental level of satisfaction with one’s own life.”

The results of the study support the broad concept of health advocated by the World Health Organization not as the absence of disease, but rather as complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, the investigators noted.

The study was conducted by investigators at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich.

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