While it has been established that there is a link between a lack of education and poor health that could result in early death, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found that psychological well-being can often counter the effects of not having an education (and the corresponding socioeconomic status) thus balancing out the negatives that this can have on one’s health.

These findings have been gathered based on a study which revealed that people who only have a high-school diploma but exhibit positive psychological characteristics which stem from having meaningful relationships with others as well as having a strong sense of purpose have stronger connections with a lower level of an inflammatory protein that can cause fatal health problems.

Carol Ryuff, UW-Madison psychology professor and co-author of the study, summarizes these findings in saying that “If you didn't go that far in your education, but you walk around feeling good psychological stuff, you may not be more likely to suffer ill-health than people with a lot of schooling.”

Researchers measured levels of Interleukin-6 (IL-6) of participants in a study known as the Survey of Midlife in the United States that analyzes aspects of age-differences in physical and mental health to find that people with these positive psychological characteristics (despite being socioeconomically disadvantaged) have moderate levels of IL-6 despite not having much education.

According to earlier research, if one had high levels of IL-6, this meant that one was more than likely to suffer from poor health due to its association with diseases such as stroke, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancers.

And this correlation has provided a new angle to the link between high levels of IL-6 and the poor health as people who are just as happy or self-accepting of their situation show similar levels of this protein in comparison their highly-educated peers who seem satisfied with their lives, thus indicating that this factor closes the gap in overall health between the socioeconomically disadvantaged and those who are well-off.