First I got an email about this from Medscape. Then I saw it in the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog. Then I clicked through to the abstract from the Archives of General Psychiatry.
So there's this prospective study of Catholic clergy--priest, nuns, and brother-- called The Religious Orders Study at Rush University, where the participants have yearly physical and psychological exams and agree to donate their brains for autopsy at the appropriate time. Wow. The Religious Orders Study has been going since 1993 and is funded by the National Institute on Aging.
Okay, so Jacob Goldstein at the WSJ blog tells us:
A high conscientiousness score — which the authors describe as reflecting a “tendency to control impulses and be goal directed” — was associated with an 89% reduction in the risk of disease compared with a low score, even after accounting for age, sex and education.
By 'sex' I think he means gender.
At any rate, this study made me think of my dear friend ClinkShrink, pictured above, who a) is often mistaken for a nun and b) is very conscientious.
I'm hoping this bodes well for her brain. If not, I'll still be her friend.