All's Fair. Not.

What are we to make of this new study indicating that unfair treatment can be bad for your health?

Key evidence:

A new study found that people who thought they were treated unfairly were more likely to suffer a heart attack or chest pain. Those who thought they had experienced the worst injustice were 55% more likely to experience a coronary event than people who thought life was fair, according to the report published today in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
"Frequent experiences of unfair treatment can produce psychological distress that, in the long term, may influence health," said lead author Roberto De Vogli, an epidemiologist at University College London.

The study, one of the largest and longest of its kind, examined medical data from 6,081 British civil servants. In the early 1990s, they were asked how strongly they agreed with this statement: "I often have the feeling that I am being treated unfairly." ... The researchers found that the rate of cardiac events among civil servants who reported low levels of unfair treatment was 28% higher than for those who had no complaints. People who reported moderate unfairness saw their risk rise by 36%.

Well, to quote President Kennedy, who knew a thing or two about getting the choicest cut of beef: "Life's not fair." (Or, in the famous opening words of "The Road Less Traveled": "Life is difficult.")

It may be that this particular study says more about British civil servants than about American taxi drivers, accountants, auto workers or -- God forbid -- journalists. But it raises the question of just when, and why, people began clinging to the notion that life is meant to be fair. It isn't.

Maybe if more people were able to accept that, their hearts wouldn't be prone to attack. They'd be happier -- or, at least, healthier.

They might even realize that while life isn't fair, it's often good -- and sometimes even very good. And that's fair enough, isn't it?