Once upon a time the type A executive, shouting orders, and working long hours was the stereotype believed to die young. But the British Whitehall study of civil servants, started in 1960, says this is a popular myth. Rather, those at the top of the pecking order have the least stress and healthier lives. In fact, heart attack and death from other causes is the more common fate of underlings.
In another study at the University of Chicago, rhesus macaques at the bottom of the pile suffered the same fate. But why does this happen?
The study of monkeys shows high and low ranking members had different levels of glucocorticoids that regulate immune system activity and response to stress. There also appears to be an association on how social rank influences the activity of certain genes. But with any animal study it’s questionable whether these findings apply to humans.
So at the moment the best medicine is to be smart, get a promotion and live longer and healthier.