Immune system can be damaged by low social status, study says

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Simply being at the bottom of the social heap directly alters the body in ways that can damage health, a study at Duke University in the US suggests, the BBC reported.

Monkey experiments showed low status alters the immune system in a way that raises the risk of heart disease, diabetes and mental health problems, the BBC added.

According to the BBC, one expert said the findings were “terrifically applicable” to people.The findings, in Science, had nothing to do with the unhealthy behaviours that are more common in poorer groups.

The gulf in life expectancy between the richest and poorest is huge – in the US it is more than a decade for women and 15 years for men, the BBC indicated.

It said that part of the explanation is that people from poorer backgrounds are more likely to have a worse lifestyle – including smoking, little exercise and diets containing junk food. But the latest study goes further to show low status – with all of those other factors stripped out – still has an impact on the body.

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