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Loneliness is bad for your health

September 17, 2007 | By | 1 Reply Continue Reading

It has been well-established that loneliness and lack of social supports are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, viral infections, and cancer as well as higher mortality rates. Now for the first time, a research team at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has found evidence suggesting that social isolation is linked to alterations of the genes that drive inflammation, the first response of the immune system…

“What this study shows is that the biological impact of social isolation reaches down into some of our most basic internal processes, the activity of our genes,” said Steve Cole, an associate professor of medicine in the division of Hematology-Oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine, and a member of the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology.

“We found that changes in immune cell gene expression were specifically linked to the subjective experience of social distance,” said Cole, who is also a member of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. “The differences we observed were independent of other known risk factors, such as health status, age, weight, and medication use. The changes were even independent of the objective size of a person’s social network.”

We found that what counts at the level of gene expression is not how many people you know, it’s how many you feel really close to over time.” In the future, he said, the transcriptional fingerprint they’ve identified might become useful as a ‘biomarker’ to monitor interventions designed to reduce the impact of loneliness on health.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Mind, Body, Brain and Health Initiative of the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, the Norman Cousins Center at UCLA, the John Templeton Foundation, and the James B Pendelton Charitable Trust.

Source: Press Release – Loneliness is a molecule, UCLA, September 13, 2007

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Category: KEEPING FRIENDS

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Especially with all the recent hype about inflammation and how it is the cause of all evils.

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