How Being Lonely Harms Your Health
We know that loneliness hurts emotionally, but now scientists have discovered that social isolation actually damages our cells and makes us physically sick. As human beings, our ability to thrive together is key—to our health and to our survival.
Research shows that loneliness increases mortality by about 26 percent and, according to a new study, isolation is the strongest social risk factor for health problems like heart disease. This is a devastating problem, as more than 40 percent of people over the age of 65 report being lonely—a number that is expected to rise as baby boomers continue to age.
Studies have shown genetic differences at a cellular level in people who are lonely—similar to those seen in people who live under the weight of chronic stress and fear. Loneliness increases inflammation in the body and decreases the body’s ability to fight infections. Early research shows that reducing loneliness can help lessen the impact of these cellular changes on health.
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