Interleukin 6, an important immune protein, is easily measured by a fasting blood test. It was one of several pieces of data collected and available in the MIDUS database, because it provides an accurate assessment of conditions linked to inflammation such as heart disease, stroke, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, and some cancers.
Researchers studied many pathways between personality, health behaviors, and chronic disease, but the neuroticism-conscientiousness interaction emerged among 441 individuals who scored moderate to high on both traits. And, the higher a person scored in both conscientiousness and neuroticism, the lower their levels of IL-6. This group also had lower body-mass index scores and fewer diagnosed chronic health conditions, results showed.
The term "healthy neuroticism" was coined in 2000 when other researchers first described how conscientiousness may provide the dose of self-discipline that reduces unhealthy neurotic behaviors like overeating, smoking, and drinking too much alcohol all of which have direct or indirect consequences for inflammation.
In contrast, a neurotic person who scores low in conscientiousness may not have healthy avenues to deal with stress, the paper said.
"Speculation is that healthy neurotics may be hyper-vigilant about their lifestyle and about seeking treatment when a problem arises," Turiano said. "It's their conscientiousness that guides their decisions to prevent disease or quickly get treatment when they don't feel well."
However, Turiano cautions that more research is needed before scientists can draw firm conclusions. Simply labeling certain traits as "good" versus "bad" as they relate to health is not sufficient for a full understanding
|Contact: Leslie Orr|
University of Rochester Medical Center