Loneliness May Lead to Decline in Physical Health, Study Says
Valuable and healthy relationships should improve poor immunity.
Bad relationships or little to no relationships at all can actually affect a person’s physical health, researchers report. In a study of 200 breast cancer survivors compared to study participants with more social connections, people who felt lonely showed more inflammation in response to stress and higher levels of a latent herpes virus—a sign of poor immunity.
"It is clear from previous research that poor-quality relationships are linked to a number of health problems, including premature mortality [death] and all sorts of other very serious health conditions,” said study author Lisa Jaremka, a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University. “And people who are lonely clearly feel like they are in poor-quality relationships.”
The reactivation of a latent herpes virus is known to be linked to stress. Investigators said these findings suggest that lonliness acts as a chronic source of stress that triggers a poorly controlled immune response. The data and conclusions are viewed as preliminary until published by a peer-reviewed journal. (U.S. News)