Being cantankerous key to longer life

London: Grumpy aged men now have a good reason to cheer up — they`ll outlive optimists, says a study.

Researchers have found that being cantankerous is the key to reaching old age — this is because happier characters are likely to take more risks through their lives including eating unhealthy foods, drinking and smoking.

The findings, part of a 90-year study, cast doubt on reports that loving marriages, active social lives, raising children or owning a pet help people to live longer, the `Daily Express` reported.

Researcher Leslie Martin said: "We came to a new understanding about happiness and health. One of the findings that astounded us was that participants who were the most cheerful and had the best sense of humour as children lived shorter lives, on average, than those who were less cheerful.

"The prudent and persistent individuals stayed healthiest and lived longest."

The study, called the Longevity Project, also found owning a pet could improve general "well-being" but made no difference to living longer. Similarly, people being cared for as they got older stayed cheerful but, didn`t live longer.