An allostatic load framework for understanding social differences in health and mortality

A consistent finding in the epidemiological literature is that health is socially patterned. On average, individuals from more disadvantaged social backgrounds will develop diseases earlier and will die earlier compared with their more advantaged peers. So ubiquitous is the association between health and wealth that it has been referred to as a "fundamental" cause of disease. But what is it about low socio-economic status (SES) that makes a person growing up disadvantaged more likely to experience disease, to experience earlier onset of disease, and more likely to suffer premature mortality? Understanding how social group-based differences in SES become biologically embedded in the tissues and organs of the body over the life course is the focus of this project. We will develop a measure for estimating the impact of life course stresses on the body and explore the extent to which this construct explains differences in longevity between different SES groups. It is anticipated that this project will lead to the identification of modifiable risk and resilience factors that contribute to accelerated ageing and will help inform societal approaches to reduce health inequalities and promote healthy ageing.

Award Date
04 July 2017
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Dr Cathal McCrory
Host Institution
Trinity College Dublin
Emerging Investigator Awards