CEOs, Other Top Workers More Likely To Have Better Immune Systems: Report

Being a CEO isn't only preferable for your wallet, it may also be desirable for your health.

Those at the top of the ladder are more likely to experience quicker immune responses and better overall health than those on the bottom tier, according to a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers Elizabeth Archie of University of Notre Dame, Jeanne Altmann of Princeton University and Susan Alberts of Duke University examined 27 years of data on the illness and injuries in wild male baboons at a sanctuary in Kenya and found that top-ranking baboons, especially alpha males, were healthier and healed significantly faster than their low-ranking counterparts, even when controlling for age. The study's authors clarify however that their results only demonstrate a correlation, and not a causation -- meaning it's still unclear whether the baboons' low rank caused their poor health or their poor health resulted in a lower rank.

In the PNAS study, low-ranking baboons experienced poor physical condition and chronic social stress. The results may surprise, researchers note, since higher ranking positions typically carry more responsibilities, and stress is known to suppress immune responses.

Observers may also be taken aback by the findings because there's other evidence out there to suggest that stress has more adverse health effects on people of higher social status. A study from last year found that work pressure increases the likelihood of stroke among men of higher classes by 1.4 times, but has no correlation for stroke among lower class.

Immune response may suffer even more for low-income residents in areas of extreme wealth inequality and during times of financial downturn. Work-related stress increases by 40 percent during a recession, researchers at the University of Nottingham and University of Ulster discovered, while a study from the University of Hawaii found that stress and anxiety can pass from person to person as fast as the common cold.