The American dream promises that if we work hard, we can transcend the social class we're born into. But it can't be ignored, according to a growing body of research. Scientists are finding that socioeconomic status--our relative status when it comes to education, job, income and other factors--impacts our physical health.
At a recent National Institutes of Health conference, scientists highlighted a powerful discovery: People of lower socioeconomic status are mere likely to develop a serious disease--like heart disease or cancer--and die early than people of higher social standing. The link between status and health is mediated by complex biological pathways that are not yet understood. But scientists de believe that psychological factors such as stress, shame, depression, poor social support and pessimism--all burdens of low social class-make the body vulnerable to poor health.