Low social status leads to off-kilter immune system | Science News

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Low social status leads to off-kilter immune system

Monkey study reveals cellular and genetic hallmarks of inflammation

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2:00pm, November 24, 2016
monkeys

HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS  Companionship for low-ranking monkeys might lessen the inflammation spurred by their low social status, a new study suggests.

Living on the bottom rungs of the social ladder may be enough to make you sick. A new study manipulating the pecking order of monkeys finds that low social status kicks the immune system into high gear, leading to unwanted inflammation akin to that in people with chronic diseases.

The new study, in the Nov. 25 Science, gets at an age-old question that’s been tough to study experimentally: Does social status alone change biology in a way that can make a person more healthy or more vulnerable to disease?

“We’ve known for years that human health and longevity are linked to socioeconomic status,” says Steve Cole, an expert in human social genomics at UCLA. This link often persists regardless of factors such as access to decent health care or clean water, but it’s hard to design studies to get at mechanism or causation, he says. “This study is very nice to

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