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Being a Cynic May Triple Your Risk for Dementia


Senior Man Lifestyle Series Cynicism is the enemy of your health, according to scientists who just discovered that being a cynic can radically boost the risk of cognitive decline in the elderly. It is apparent that people who are mistrustful, believing others are motivated by selfishness, are more likely to develop physical and mental disorders. The findings add to the evidence that personality and viewpoint can affect wellness, says Dr. Anna-Maija Tolppanen, leader of the research team at the University of Finland.

In the study published in Neurology, researchers asked 1,500 people of an average age of 71 to complete a questionnaire measuring their level of cynicism. The participants were required to say how much they agreed with statements like “I think most people would lie to get ahead.” After eight years of monitoring, 46 of them received the diagnosis of dementia. The results showed those with the highest cynical scores had triple the risk of incurring dementia than those with the lowest. Even with factoring in other risk factors, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, the triple risk of cynicism held firm. A greater degree of cynicism also seemed to be associated with early death in the study. However, after adjusting for other factors like lifestyle habits and income, the link appeared weak. Yet some studies do show that cynicism influences health, one of which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. This research showed cynical hostility can increase the risk of a heart attack.

The Profound Connection Between the Mind and Health

Dr. David Sack, CEO of Promises Treatment Centers in Malibu and Los Angeles, tells Live in the Now that the mind and body are intricately connected, with what we think and feel having a profound effect on our physical health. “The field of positive psychology has exploded recently, and there is a reason for that. A body of research has shown that simply paying attention to positive feelings and taking steps to have more of them leads to better health and greater longevity,” he says. “When your emotions are negative, your body responds. Your immune system may be weakened, prompting more colds and infections. Your sleep may be disturbed, a condition that can damage your body’s ability to repair and restore itself. Your stress level may also rise, potentially leading to high blood pressure and ulcers,” Sack explains. “Additionally, negative emotions can fuel anxiety and depression, which can in turn cause or contribute to health problems such as heart disease.”

Steps for Overcoming Cynicism

Sack provides the guidelines below for overcoming cynicism.

  • Be willing to be vulnerable. Yes, you may sometimes get hurt by dropping your cynicism and allowing trust back into your life, but the rewards of opening up to people and opportunities is well worth it.
  • Examine how you feel about cynicism. Do you look at hopeful, sunny types as fools just waiting to be fleeced? Does cynicism feel like a way to be street-smart, savvy, and safe? There is a middle ground that allows for both healthy skepticism and an open spirit.
  • Don’t seek out justification for your negative mindset. In this 24/7 communication age, it’s easy to find others willing to assure you that, yes indeed, your fears are justified, people can’t be trusted, and on and on. Expand your search, flip the channel and seek out the good news. There is some!
  • Don’t jump to conclusions. Give others the benefit of the doubt, just as you’d like them to do for you.
  • Make social connections. Taking the time to get to know others on more than a surface level is an antidote to cynicism.
  • Get professional help. If you keep defaulting to cynicism despite attempts to change, consider therapy to come to terms with the underlying cause of your cynicism and to develop strategies for dealing with it.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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