How Loneliness Affects Longevity


Being lonely can trigger cellular changes in your body that increase your chances of getting ill and not living as long as you could have, according to a new study. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, identified loneliness as a major health problem that could reduce quality of life among affected persons.

This is not the first time research would link loneliness with poor health.

The risk applies to older people, past research has suggested. A leading charity for people over 60 in the United Kingdom (UK) said the findings in the new study underline the importance of treating loneliness as a major health problem.

In the new study, researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of California found that loneliness can trigger the body’s fightor- flight response, which can affect the production of white blood cells and eventually undermine the immune system.

They based their research on 141 older people enrolled in a United States (U.S) study on ageing and social relations, and on an examination of lonely rhesus macaque monkeys, a highly social species of primates. Loneliness is a feeling of being cut off, disconnected, and/or alienated from other people, so that it feels difficult or even impossible to have any form of meaningful human contact. Lonely people often feel empty or hollow inside.

Loneliness typically includes anxious feelings about a lack of connectedness or communality with other beings, both in the present and extending into the future.

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