Two common traits of the self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits Study were: honesty and good health. I wondered if it was a coincidence that 95% of the self-made millionaires in my study had forged the Rich Habit of being truthful and that 95% of the self-made millionaires indicated that they were in good health.
So, I decided to do some more research. What I found opened my eyes about the negative health consequences of lying.
This fascinating article by Lifehacker reveals that lying taxes your brain, causes long-term stress which depresses your immune system and ultimately devastates your health.
Another interesting read that I uncovered on the negative health affects of lying, was a study conducted by Anita Kelly, Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana.
Kelly studied 110 adults over a 10 week period to determine if lying had any impact on their health. In the study, half of the participants were asked not to lie throughout the study period while the remaining half were not given any specific instructions. Each participant was required to keep track of how many lies or ‘fibs‘ they told each day. They each took a lie detector test every week and answered a questionnaire regarding their mental and physical health as well as the quality of their relationships.
Both teams lied less during the testing period, but the group that was asked to stop lying showed health improvements. Kelly stated, “We established very clearly that purposefully trying not to lie caused people to tell fewer lies. When they told more lies, their health went down. And when they told the truth, it improved.”
The bigger the lie, the worse it is for your health. The more frequently you lie, the worse it is for your health. If you think that small, innocent lies don’t cause damage, you are wrong. They also discovered that telling three less lies per week resulted in four less mental health issues and physical complaints three fewer times. Here’s the link that references this study.
Neurologists and geneticists around the world are beginning to unlock the keys to how our brains work in preventing and causing diseases that plague mankind. Habitually lying results in long-term stress. When we feel stress, there is a domino effect of physiology that takes place inside our bodies. Stress causes the hypothalamus to increase the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones make the heart beat faster and prepare the body for fight or flight. If the stress lingers, a gene on chromosome 10, called CYP17, is activated. This gene goes to work to convert cholesterol to cortisol. Cortisol is used in virtually every part of the body and it’s purpose is to integrate the body and the mind. The body and mind then work in harmony to escape the outside world danger responsible for the stress.
One of cortisol’s side effects, unfortunately, is that it depresses the immune system by reducing the production of lymphocytes – white blood cells. The gene CYP17 also turns on another gene called TCF, which suppresses the the creation of a protein called interleukin 2. Interleukin 2’s purpose is to put white blood cells on high alert. White blood cells are our main defense against viruses, diseases, germs and any parasites that infect the body. Long-term stress, therefore, makes us more susceptible to disease.
Lying is not just bad habit that damages your credibility and your relationships. It turns out habitual lying also impairs your health and shortens your life expectancy, as it increases your susceptibility to disease. If your goal is to be healthy and live a long life, tell the truth and avoid lying. Habitual liars are not just bad people, they’re unhealthy people.