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Happy People Have More Immunity to Colds

A study from Carnegie Mellon University shows that people who are happy are less likely to catch colds, while those who are depressed, nervous or angry are more likely to complain about cold symptoms (Psychosomatic Medicine, July, 2003). The authors report that study particpants who feel good about themselves aren't infected as often and experience fewer symptoms.

The researchers assessed 334 volunteers for their levels of happiness. People described how they felt that day regarding good feelings such as vigor, well-being and calm, and bad feelings such as depression, anxiety and hostility. Then researchers sprayed cold viruses, called rhinoviruses,, into their noses and found that people who felt good about themselves had a lower rate for colds, but people who felt bad were not at increased risk for colds.

Although people who felt good about themselves reported fewer colds, they had the same rate of rhinovirus growth in their noses. The author feels that feeling good about yourself lowers the amount of inflammatory chemicals produced by the body in response to infection.

Do you believe that feeling good helps prevents colds? I think that the study showed that when you feel good about yourself, you complain less, whether you have a cold or not. This study shows that feeling good does not reduce the growth of virus in the nose. It shows only that feeling good helps you to complain less about an infection when you have it. Why then does the author report that happy people have better immunities? Because that gets a better response from the media. As of today, there is no evidence whatever that feeling happy or good about yourself helps your immunity to protect you from colds. Happy people complain less. That is why it is more pleasant to be around happy people than those who are sad.

Checked 11/2/15

May 30th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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