22-05-2022 by Freddie del Curatolo
The Andreottian adage "power wears down those who don't have it" also seems to appeal greatly to Kenyan baboons. In the baboon community of the Amboseli Reserve, in fact, males in dominant positions enjoy better health than others, thanks to their ability to recover more quickly from illness and injury, evidently feeling immune to the stress of "being nobody."
The research, by scientists at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that males in major positions and those in minor positions shared the same levels of stress, which debilitates the immune system, but the better social standing of the former seemed to be able to counteract these damaging effects. In fact, biologists found that social position could be, for example, a predictor of bleeding following injury, counting more even than the animal's age. The scientists collected data on adults up to 27 years old, finding that males higher in the social hierarchy were less likely to get sick and generally recovered more quickly from injuries and illnesses, compared to other baboons. These studies, part of which were published in the journal "Science Advances," show, for example, that female baboons with high levels of glucocorticoids, the hormones involved in those who have to fight for their lives due to abuse from fellow power-holders as well as males, have a higher risk of dying than those with lower levels, that is, those who do not have to worry about danger. In fact, glucocorticoids are a group of hormones that help prepare the body for a challenge. Although these hormones have many functions in the body, persistently high levels of glucocorticoids in the blood can be an indicator of stress.
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