Call me anxious, an over-thinker, a good old-fashioned worrywart … whichever term, it fits. I’m a classic Woody Allen-style neurotic — and it could be good for my health. A recent study found that conscientious neurotic people have lower body-mass indexes, fewer chronic health conditions and less markers of inflammation in their blood.
The study—conducted at University of Rochester Medical Center—tested the blood, urine, and saliva of over 1000 adults and found that people who were self-described neurotics with “high levels of conscientiousness” (meaning they’re always organized, on time, and plan ahead for things) have lower levels of Interleukin 6 (IL-6), which is a biomarker for inflammation and chronic disease.
Inflammation is a suspected culprit in approximately 8 billion health conditions, from Alzheimer’s to heart disease.
There’s been a lot of hubbub lately about how stress hormones promote inflammation, which only gave me another thing to worry about – surely all my fretting and ruminating must be triggering these demon chemicals! And maybe so: ”Most studies find that a higher level of neuroticism is associated with … higher inflammation, and increased risk of mortality,” said psychiatrist and study author Nicholas Turiano.
“However, what we found was that when people are high both in neuroticism and conscientiousness, the conscientiousness buffers the negative effects of neuroticism,” he said.
The higher people scored in neurotic and conscientious personality traits, the lower their levels of the IL-6 inflammation marker. Conscientious neurotics also had lower BMIs and fewer diagnosed chronic health problems.