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Big Smiles, Longer Lives?
Date:3/26/2010

Folks with widest grins in photos outlived others, suggesting happiness extends life

FRIDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- If you're always the one in the photo flashing the biggest smile, a new study suggests you can count on living a long life.

Researchers from Wayne State University in Detroit evaluated the photographs of 230 Major League Baseball players who started playing before 1950, rating their smiles as nonexistent to full.

"People who had the most intense smiles lived the longest, compared to the other two," said Ernest L. Abel, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and of psychology at Wayne State.

"The more intense smile, we infer, indicates an underlying happiness, if you will, a more positive attitude," he said. "It's hard to fake an intense smile."

The researchers gathered other information potentially linked with longevity from a longstanding data base on the players, such as college attendance, marital status, birth year and body-mass index.

They asked reviewers who didn't know the study's purpose to rate the player's smiles as a 1, 2, or 3, with 1 being no smile, 2 a partial, and 3, a broad full smile, the kind that makes your eyes crinkle.

As of June 1, 2009, all but 46 players had died, and they looked back to see if the smile intensity in photos was linked with longer life. It was.

On average, the longevity of the non-smilers was 72.9, 75 for the partial smilers and 79.9 for the big smilers.

The study was recently published in Psychological Science Online First.

The big smilers had what is known as a Duchenne smile, named after the French neurologist who discovered it. Cheeks and the corners of the mouth are raised, and crows-feet wrinkles appear around the eyes.

After Abel and his team controlled for variables such as marital status, birth year and body-mass index, they found the smile-longevity link still held
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