Research led by a team of scientists at the University of Limerick (Ireland) revealed for the first time that the immune system directly links personality to long-term risk of premature death.
Many international studies have shown that our personality traits are related to the risk of having a shorter life, said Dr. Paraic O. Suilleabhain, from the Department of Psychology and Health Research Institute at the University of Limerick.
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“The critical question is ‘how’. We wanted to find out if a biological pathway such as our immune system may explain why this happens”explained the lead researcher of the study, quoted by the EurekAlert portal.
The scientists focused their attention on two biological markers: interleukin 6 and c-reactive protein that are essential for the immune system.
To date, no one knew that these macromolecules play an important role in the relationship that can be observed in people with certain personality traits and life expectancy.
Dr Suilleabhain and his colleagues based their research on data collected by another study of 957 adults who were examined over a 14-year period.
The results of their research published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity showed that the risk of suffering a premature death was 40% higher in people who had lower scores on awareness. In addition, they found that people with the highest scores live longer because their immune systems show lower levels of interleukin-6.
“These findings are very important and identify for the first time that an underlying biological marker directly links personality to long-term mortality risk. (…) these findings provide an opportunity for future interventions to increase our longevity and health across the lifespan”he added.