Countless articles have been written discussing the secrets to living longer, and while there are many ways to do so, it all boils down to having a healthier lifestyle. You have to eat right, exercise right, and maybe, have regular sex. But a new study published in the SAGE journals of Psychological Science suggests something a tad ironic or counterintuitive. It turns out, having a Neurotic personality can impact longevity.

How worrying affects longevity

Researchers from the University College of London, University of Southampton, and University of Edinburgh found that higher neuroticism was associated with a “reduced risk of death from all causes.” The study involved over 300,000 people who were registered in the U.K.

Biobank, a resource that examines the respective contributions of genetic predisposition and environmental exposure (including nutrition, lifestyle, medications, etc.) to the development of the disease.

Participants were between the ages 37 and 73 upon signing up in the years 2006 and 2010, and were made to fill out a questionnaire including identifying the status of their health coded as “poor,” “fair,” “good,” and “excellent.” They found that individuals who considered themselves to be in mediocre or poor health had lower risks of developing cancer and heart attack.

One of the paper’s authors, Catharine R. Gale, said that neuroticism could have a “protective effect, perhaps by making people more vigilant about their health.”

Bucking the trend on anxiety

For years, people have been reliant on the fact that anxiety has a negative impact on one’s health.

It is widely accepted that being in an anxious state produces more of cortisol – the stress hormone – which damages cells throughout the body.

The study does not mean neuroticism is a good thing necessarily, but it merely emphasizes the fact being in an anxious state allows warning signals to shoot some parts of the brain that make a person act.

In short, individuals who are neurotic are more likely to pay attention to their health and report a problem to the doctor.

The data also included information on participants’ health behaviors (smoking, physical activity), physical health (body mass index, blood pressure), cognitive function, and medical. Intriguingly, the results did not seem to vary according to participants' health behaviors or medical diagnoses at the time they completed the neuroticism questionnaire, a finding which surprised the researchers.