Health News: Does Being Popular Make You Healthier?

By Minnow Blythe, Parent Herald November 27, 10:00 pm

How does being famous make you healthier? A recent study claims your social status in life affects the strength of your immunity against sickness. Find out how and why!

Researchers from Duke University from North Carolina discovered that the higher you are on the social ladder, the stronger your immune system is from fighting sickness. The study was conducted using a group of female macaques. The researchers observed that the female macaques with a higher social ranking are less prone to stress-related sickness. On the other hand, the female macaques on the lower social ladder have weak immune systems.

Nine female macaques were individually placed in an enclosure. The initial social rankings of the female macaques depended on the order they arrived in the enclosure. Those who arrived first were considered on the higher end of the social ranking with newcomers on the lower rank.

Testing the female macaques' blood, the researchers found out that the white blood cells of the higher socially ranked female macaques have stronger immunity against bacteria and toxins. White blood cells of the lower socially ranked female macaques showed the opposite.

A year after, the female macaques were taken out and re-introduced into the enclosure in a different order. The once lower ranked female macaques have improved immunity while the opposite can be said to once higher ranked female macaques.

The researchers observed that that hygiene was more important than harassment in response to the improvement of immunity in the once lower socially ranked female macaques. It means as the female macaques' rankings rise politically, the more they are groomed, the less they are stressed. This lead to a vast improvement on their immune systems.

The researchers explain that as macaques are human's close evolutionary relatives, the result of the study could mean that social status in one's life can significantly affect the strength of one's immune system.

Previous studies have shown that the socioeconomic status of someone does affect how healthy the person is. Those who are on the higher socioeconomic levels are less prone to getting sick compared to those who are unfortunate enough to be born on lower socio-economic levels. This perspective is purely based on one's socioeconomic status and does not include one's lifestyle.

Based on the results of the study with female macaques, researchers are looking further on how the change in social status can affect immunity in humans. Combining the two studies, does the improvement in the socio-economic status of a person also improve his protection against sickness?

On an emotional and psychological perspective, it is not based on how attractive a person is that shows how strong his or her protection against sickness. It is the exposure to stress-related things that affects one's health. The less stress the person is, even he or she is not popular, the healthier he or she is.

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